The ability to produce consistent material properties across a single or series of platforms, particularly over time, is the major objective in metal additive manufacturing (MAM) research. If this can be achieved, it will result in widespread adoption of the technology for industry and place it into mainstream manufacturing. However, before this can happen, it is critical to develop an understanding of how processing parameters influence the thermal conditions which dictate the mechanical properties of MAM builds. Research work reported in the literature of MAM is generally based on a set of parameters and/or the review of a few parameter changes, and observing the effects that these changes (i.e., microstructure, mechanical properties) have. While these articles provide results with some insight, there lacks a standard approach that can be used to allow meaningful comparisons and conclusions to be made concerning the optimization of the processing variables. This study provides a template which can be used for making comparisons across DED platforms. The tests are performed with a design of experiments (DOE) philosophy directed to evaluate the effect of selected parameters on the measured properties of the DED builds. Specifically, a laser engineering net shaping system (LENS) is used to build multilayered 316L coupons and analyze how build parameters such as laser power, travel speed, and powder feed rate influence the thermal conditions that will define both microstructure and microhardness. A fundamental conclusion of this research is that it is possible to repeatedly obtain a consistent microstructure that contains a fine cellular substructure with a low level of porosity (less than 1.1%) and with microhardness that is equal to or better than wrought 316L. This is mainly achieved by maintaining an associated powder flow to travel speed ratio at the power level, ensuring an appropriate net heat input for the build process.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited