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I NEED HELP FINDING A LASER TO MELT METAL thanks

Lukeham

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As the eye catching title suggests, I have a project that requires a laser that can melt various metal powders. FYI, the project is to make a powder bed 3d printer. I just don't know how much power or what wavelength the laser should run at. FIber? Co2? diode? i dont know. thanks.
 



Encap

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You need a lot more help than finding a laser that can melt metal, given you do not have any idea of what laser nor everything needed to accomplish what you want to do in the real world.
Search the topic on Google --there are currently dozens of pages of links to study.
Whoever suggested that "project" played a bad joke on you. If it was your idea--bad daydream based on imagination and no knowledge of the field or even what laser to use.
Usually 400Watt to 700Watt pulsed lasers are used, sometimes higher sometimes lower like 100W, depending.
Here is a list of all manufacturers that make 3D powdered metal printers---you can study what they have done and learned.: https://www.3dnatives.com/en/metal-3d-printer-manufacturers/

What is your budget for a 3D metal powder printer?
You might have a chance with a budget of $25,000 to $100,000, maybe less, and all the current knowledge and experience of how systems that exist actually work.

It's not only wattage of the laser it is the area of the laser spot on the surface of the powder and method of focusing it so energy density is high enough to do the job. Normally a high power fiber optic laser output is collimated then focused to as small a spot as can be done to generate the energy density needed. It is the critical energy density of beam/spot needed and not just power/surface area of a metal powder because as the process proceeds the melt zone will be conducting heat out in three dimensions + scan speed and a whole host of other problems and considerations + no oxygen/inert gas atmosphere.

"A lot of technical challenges would need to be overcome. If you're using lasers and powders, you generally have to get the material up to white heat to get the materials to fuse together and in a atmosphere that is oxygen free. Getting a result that is close to 100% metal density is not easy. Warping, surface roughness, and numerous other aspects are not so easy to control/deal with, not to mention the hazards that need to be mitigated.

Here is what one guy has done. He has created a production capable 3D metal powder bed fusion 3D printer is which metal powder is lain on the print bed, after which a high power laser melts it in precise locations according to a CAD file (computer-aided design). Once the layer is complete, the computer adds a new metal powder layer and repeats the process.

Estimated cost is much cheaper than currently available machines but still in the $80,000 to $100,000 range."
Good Video with guy who created it:
See thread: https://laserpointerforums.com/threads/determining-material-opacity.95440/#post-1387464

To do anything even like that is not simply a matter of laser type, power, and wavelength to melt metal powder.
Even a crap quality joke is going to be very expensive.

NIST research team broke the method down into a dozen “process parameters,” 15 types of “process signatures” and the half a dozen categories of “product qualities” they charted to identify the “cause-and-effect relationships among variables” see: https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/ir/2015/NIST.IR.8036.pdf
 
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Lukeham

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Thanks bud, but I know what im getting into. Don't need the condescending attitude. I have a few years of experience in the field of 3d printing, and know that building a dmls printer is not a trivial matter. Thanks for some of the links, though.
 

Alaskan

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Good thing you have that kind of expertise with 3d printers, but even then, wow... you have quite a lot work ahead of you. This forum is full of hobbyists at various levels of understanding, unless one of the very few who might know enough to answer happens to see your thread, I don't know you will get the kind of help you need, the guys who know enough don't stop by the forum very often.

That said, from my own limited experience, you would be breaking new ground to get something like that to work, I think. I haven't seen a hint of such technology in the market yet, but maybe that is why you are here asking. I don't see how you could get that to work, but that doesn't mean there isn't a way, with some twist or another I am not considering.
 

Encap

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Hard to believe you have it all nailed down but can't figure out where to "find" a laser, but could be true.
Probably would be a whole lot cheaper to buy a machine that works and can make whatever quality you want to have than to build one- who knows. Here is a March 2019 listing with prices of machines available: https://www.aniwaa.com/best-of/3d-printers/best-metal-3d-printer/

LPF is a laser hobbyist forum as mentioned above and not the place to ask.
Ask Coherent USA's world leader in laser technology for over 50 years about appropriate lasers and details for your application that they can supply.
See, call, and ask: https://www.coherent.com/

Good luck.
 
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Alaskan

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Yep, that's a good suggestion, if anyone has an answer, they should.
 

kecked

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Why not try the normal metal green print that gets kiln fired. You print like normal fdm. The part then gets sintered to finish it. That hard pRt is calibrating the shrink from the burn off of the organics.

Examples

 

kecked

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Point was the method. Fdm the green part then cook it. No laser needed
 

Encap

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Point was the method. Fdm the green part then cook it. No laser needed
fdm is OK for prototypes and show and tell presentations.
Mostly a fun toy for CAD file creator hobbyists and businesses with deep pockets.

There are many disadvantages and limitations to fdm.
"While metal extrusion is similar to all other 3D printing processes by building its parts layer by layer, it varies due to the material being deposited through a nozzle under constant pressure and in a continuous stream. This pressure must be kept steady and at a constant speed to enable accurate results. Unfortunately, the actual application of the technology tends to leave small voids and bubbles in the part resulting from the melted mixture leaving the nozzle as it’s applied in different directions. This has a significantly negative impact on final part properties and porosity. It is because of these final part limitations that manufacturers of FDM-based metal machines rarely advertise any production part applications.
Limited production potential
High binder content makes sintering difficult
Significant part shrinkage in furnace
Supports may be required
Parts are lower in density"
from: https://news.3deo.co/metal-3d-printing-processes-fdm-fff
 
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