DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering), an additive manufacturing technology, is increasingly becoming popular to build intricate high quality functional parts & rapid prototypes. DMLS technology uses a high intensity laser to build components layer by layer, directly from metal powder. CAD data is directly converted to part without the need for tooling. It is possible to build internal features and passages that are not possible in conventional manufacturing routes.
The process generates significant amount of condensate due to vaporization and suction applied to build chamber. Typically as much as 30% of the weight of powder ends up as condensate. The condensate so generated cannot be directly recycled. This results in significant reduction in profitability and process efficiency.
This study pertains to 18% Ni Maraging Steel grade C300, which commonly used in DMLS process. Maraging Steel is used extensively to build functional parts by DMLS process especially for Tool and Die applications.
In the present study chemistry, particle size distribution & morphology of the condensate was studied & compared with the powder. Parts were built using condensate and chemical, physical, mechanical, microstructure and XRD studies were done. These properties were compared with properties of parts built using fresh powder.
No difficulty was encountered in building parts using condensate. However, hardness and tensile properties were found to be inferior, thus it is not possible to recycle the condensate directly.
Present research investigates the cause of difference in these properties.