Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an advanced 3D printing technology that uses a high-powered laser to fully melt and fuse metallic powders, layer by layer, to create solid metal parts. This process enables the production of dense, high-strength components with complex geometries that are difficult to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.

Why use Selective Laser Melting?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) allows for the creation of fully dense, high-strength metal parts with complex geometries that are difficult or impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing techniques. SLM enables the production of intricate internal structures and lightweight designs while maintaining excellent mechanical and thermal properties.

Additionally, it supports a wide range of high-performance metals, making it suitable for demanding applications in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical. The technology also eliminates the need for costly molds and tooling, providing a more efficient and cost-effective solution for low-volume production and rapid prototyping.

Benefits of SLM

Benefits

Best suited for

Materials for SLS

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) has been effectively used to manufacture engineering components at a fraction of the product development time compared to conventional techniques. This amazing technology is best suited for the manufacturing of parts for low-volume fabrication, also allowing parts to be individually customised to suit any need.

SLM is the ‘go to’ of metal additive manufacturing technologies due to the huge variety of metal alloy powders available and the quality of the parts that it produces.

High-Performance Metal Parts

Design Flexibility and Complex Geometries

Customization and Rapid Prototyping

Applications

Applications in high-performance industries:

Motorsport

Marine Racing

Advantages

Engineering advantages:

Intricate Geometries

Engineers can create highly complex and detailed designs that would be challenging or impossible to produce with traditional manufacturing methods, including intricate internal structures and fine features.

Lightweight Structures

SLM allows for the production of optimized lattice structures and weight-reducing geometries without compromising strength, leading to lighter and more efficient components.

The SLM process overview

Preparation

A 3D CAD model is designed and converted into a format that the SLM machine can interpret, typically an STL file.

The digital model is sliced into thin layers, and the slicing software generates a precise toolpath for the laser.

Material Loading

Fine metal powder, such as Titanium, Aluminium, or other high-performance metals, is loaded into the SLM machine. The powder is spread across the build platform in a thin, uniform layer.

Laser Melting

A high-powered laser selectively scans and fully melts the metal powder according to the digital toolpath, fusing the particles to form a solid layer of the part.

The build platform lowers by the thickness of one layer, and another thin layer of metal powder is spread over the previous one.

The laser continues to selectively melt and fuse each new layer to the preceding one, gradually building the part layer by layer from the bottom up.

This process is repeated until the entire part is completed.

Post-processing

Once the build is completed, the part is allowed to cool down within the powder bed to minimize residual stresses and warping.

Depending on the requirements, post-processing steps such as heat treatment, surface finishing, machining, or coating might be applied to achieve the desired mechanical properties and surface quality.

CASE STUDIES

Technology-specific case studies

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