Three-dimensional cylindrical and wall-like structures of copper, Ti-6Al-4V, aluminum, and stainless steel 304 were fabricated by melting the powders of these materials with a CO2 laser beam. A vapor-plasma plume is generated at the top of the melt layer. The emission spectra of the plume were recorded using an optical multichannel analyzer, and the plume temperatures are determined to be in the range of 4920 K to 6720 K. A one-dimensional model is developed to calculate the plume temperature, deposition geometry and melt pool characteristics. The model accounts for the transmission of the laser beam through the plume, energy transfer in the molten phase and the phase changes at the solid-liquid and liquid-vapor interfaces. The surface temperature at the molten surface is found to exceed the normal boiling temperature causing the pressure to be higher than one atmospheric pressure. The calculated plume temperatures are in good agreement with the values obtained from the spectral data. Also, the model predictions for remelt layer depth, deposition height and plasma height compare well with experimental data.