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Selective Laser Melting

Selective Laser Melting

Over the last ten years TWI has worked with companies across industry to exploit the near-limitless design freedom presented by selective laser melting (SLM).

We can work with you to design and manufacture components that outperform parts made using conventional methods, realising designs that are unrestricted by what is possible in traditional manufacturing.

Our additive manufacturing (AM) team can provide support through every stage of SLM adoption or production, from design and fabrication through to testing and validation. We can guide you to integrate SLM into your own production line, better exploit it if you use it already, or manufacture components on your behalf.

We can create parts using our range of five SLM systems from manufacturers Renishaw, Realizer and EOS, equipped with fibre lasers ranging in power from 120W to 1000W and beam diameter from 20µm to 100µm.

Fundamentals of Selective Laser Melting training course, three-day introductory course takes place on 18-20 September at TWI Technology Centre (Yorkshire), Rotherham S60 5TZ. 

This three-day course is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) - a programme to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains - and TWI is able to offer this course for £450 + VAT, a huge reduction from the original price of £1195 + VAT. Places are limited so early registration is advised.

Capabilities at a glance

  • Design guidelines for AM
  • Design for function: optimised topology and lightweighting
  • Part manufacture using titanium, nickel, aluminium, steel and cobalt-chrome
  • Process and procedure development for new materials
  • Complex geometries, eg internal cooling channels
  • Mechanical and metallurgical analysis of SLM builds
  • Post-processing including heat treatments and surface finishing
  • Non-destructive testing of SLM parts
  • Pre-production components by SLM

What is selective laser melting?

Selective laser melting is an AM process that uses a laser to selectively melt and fuse sections of a layer of powder onto a substrate. After each layer is fused, the substrate is retracted vertically, another even layer of powder is spread across the top, and the process repeats.

The path of the laser is determined by a CAD model that is sliced into layers less than 100µm thick using specialist software. Selective laser melting takes place in a vacuum chamber filled with inert gas, to prevent oxidisation of the powder. Unused powder can be recycled and used for the next build.

Benefits of selective laser melting

The design freedom afforded by SLM creates opportunities for the design and manufacture of parts with previously impossible geometries. We can help you produce parts with low volumes but high surface areas, such as advanced heat exchangers or heatsinks, or parts with intricate internal channels, such as components carrying internally fed fluids.

Selective laser melting is also ideal for creating highly customised parts. The medical industry is already taking advantage of this flexibility to create orthopaedic implants precisely tailored to individual patients and therefore much less likely to be rejected by the recipient’s immune system.

Other benefits include the following:

  • Reduced material wastage and costs (superior buy-to-fly ratio)
  • Improved production development cycle 
  • Ideal for rapid prototyping and low-volume production
  • Capable of producing functionally graded parts
  • Allows for fully customised parts to suit individual requirements

Where can selective laser melting be used?

Selective laser melting is an ideal method of manufacture for intricate or thin-walled components, or high-value, bespoke or low-volume parts such as those used in the medical and dental sectors. It is also well suited for manufacturing parts where lightness is a priority.

Its benefits are especially valuable in the aerospace industry, where parts must be optimised for strength and weight. Components made using SLM can be designed to feature mass only where it is needed, reducing weight without compromising mechanical performance.

Contact us to find out how we can help.

Click here to see a virtual tour of our laser additive manufacturing facility in Sheffield.