A major factor slowing down the establishment of additive manufacturing processes as production processes is insufficient reproducibility and productivity. Therefore, this work investigates the influence of ring-shaped beam profiles on process stability and productivity in laser-based powder bed fusion of AISI 316L. For this purpose, the weld track geometries of single tracks and multi-track segments with varying laser power, scan speed, hatch distance, and beam profile (Gaussian profile and three different ring-shaped profiles) are analyzed. To evaluate the process robustness, process windows are identified by classifying the generated single tracks into different process categories. The influence of the beam profiles on productivity is studied by analyzing the molten cross-sectional areas and volumes per time. When using ring-shaped beam profiles, the process windows are significantly larger (up to a laser power of 1050 W and a scanning speed of 1700 mm/s) than those of Gaussian beams (laser power up to 450 W and scanning speed up to 1100 mm/s), which suggests a higher process robustness and stability. With ring-shaped beam profiles, larger volumes can be stably melted per track and time. The weld tracks created with ring-shaped profiles are significantly wider than those generated with Gaussian profiles (up to factor 2 within the process window), allowing enlargement of the hatch distances. Due to the higher scanning speeds and the enlarged hatch distances for ring-shaped beam profiles, the process can be accelerated by a factor of approximately 2 in the parameter range investigated.
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