Stability of a Melt Pool during 3D-Printing of an Unsupported Steel Component and Its Influence on Roughness

Publication from Materials
Laser- und Plasma-Technologien

M. Skalon, B. Meier , A. Gruberbauer, S. de Traglia Amancio-Filho, C. Sommitsch

Materials 13(3), 808;, 2020


The following work presents the results of an investigation of the cause–effect relationship between the stability of a melt pool and the roughness of an inclined, unsupported steel surface that was 3D-printed using the laser powder bed fusion (PBF-L/M) process. In order to observe the balling effect and decrease in surface quality, the samples were printed with no supporting structures placed on the downskin. The stability of the melt pool was investigated as a function of both the inclination angle and along the length of the melt pool. Single-track cross-sections were described by shape parameters and were compared and used to calculate the forces acting on the melt pool as the downskin was printed. The single-melt track tests were printed to produce a series of samples with increasing inclination angles with respect to the baseplate. The increasing angles enabled us to physically simulate specific solidification conditions during the sample printing process. As the inclination angle of the unsupported surface increased, the melt-pool altered in terms of its size, geometry, contact angles, and maximum length of stability. The balling phenomenon was observed, quantified, and compared using roughness tests; it was influenced by the melt track stability according to its geometry. The research results show that a higher linear energy input may decrease the roughness of unsupported surfaces with low inclination angles, while a lower linear energy input may be more effective with higher inclination angles

Keywords: laser powder bed fusion; downskin; melt pool; stability; printing angle; roughness; steel