Since 1980, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has emerged as one of the smart digital manufacturing technologies in the field of the manufacturing sector which has been applied in various fields, ranging from biomedical science to space science. Compared with traditional material subtractive manufacturing technologies, Additive Manufacturing is a layer-based material additive process and can produce three-dimensional complex objects with a CAD-defined geometric model. The most significant advantages of these processes are, it offers rapid, cost-effective and low-volume manufacturing of physical parts. This process integrates a high energy movable heat source for melting the metal powders, then coalesce it using fast self-cooling and finally create completely dense metallic parts. This additive manufacturing (AM) system consists of a wide variety of manufacturing processes along with their advantages and limitations. These processes were classified in terms of materials used, method of consolidation and the type of energy source. In the early 90s many new additive manufacturing technologies have been introduced such as (i) stereolithography, (ii) fused deposition modeling, (iii) powder bed fusion, (iv) laminated object manufacturing and (v) direct energy deposition. 

Among different types of additive manufacturing processes, Metal Laser Sintering evolves as a smart manufacturing process which gains attention of manufacturing industries. Although it is a relatively new technology, this rapid manufacturing process challenges the traditional material removal processes and has the potential to produce metallic components directly from the metal powders. Metal laser sintering process has been classified based on the consolidation mechanism i.e., indirect metal laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering. Indirect metal laser sintering does not have wide industrial applications due to its relatively low-density parts and the necessity of post-processing.

This article appeared in the March–April 2019 issue of Metal Powder Report. Log in to your free profile to access the whole article.

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