A 400 W high-power laser was used to fabricate 200-µm-thick Ti-6Al-4V samples to evaluate the effects of small (50 μm) and large (200 μm) beam diameter on density, microstructure and mechanical properties. A series of single-track experiments demonstrated that it was challenging for the small-beam laser to fabricate smooth and defect-free scan tracks. A larger beam diameter efficiently avoided process instability and provided a more stable and uniform melt pool. By increasing the beam diameter, the density of multilayer samples reached 99.95% of the theoretical value, which is much higher than that achieved with the small beam diameter. However, it was difficult to completely eliminate defects due to serious spatter and evaporation. Moreover, all of the generated samples had relatively coarse surfaces. For the large beam diameter of 200 µm, the optimal yield strength, ultimate tensile strength and elongation were 1150 MPa, 1200 MPa and 8.02%, respectively. In comparison, the small beam diameter of 50 µm resulted in values of 1035 MPa, 1100 MPa and 5.91%, respectively. Overall, the large-diameter laser is more suitable for high-power selective laser melting (SLM) technology, especially for thick layers.
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