Laser engineered net shaping (LENS) is an additive manufacturing process that presents a promising method of creating or repairing metal parts not previously feasible with traditional manufacturing methods. The LENS process involves the directed deposition of metal via a laser power source and a spray of metal powder co-located to create and feed a molten pool (also referred to generically as Directed Energy Deposition, DED). DED technologies are being developed for use in prototyping, repair, and manufacturing across a wide variety of materials including stainless steel, titanium, tungsten carbide-cobalt, aluminum, and nickel based superalloys. However, barriers to the successful production and qualification of LENS produced or repaired parts remain. This work proposes a finite element (FE) analysis methodology capable of simulating the LENS process at the continuum length scale (i.e. part length scale). This method incorporates an element activation scheme wherein only elements that exceed the material melt temperature during laser heating are activated and carried through to subsequent analysis steps. Following the initial element activation calculation, newly deposited, or activated elements and the associated geometry, are carried through to thermal and mechanical analyses to calculate heat flow due to radiation, convection, and conduction as well as stresses and displacements. The final aim of this work is to develop a validated LENS process simulation capability that can accurately predict temperature history, final part shape, distribution of strength, microstructural properties, and residual stresses based on LENS process parameters.

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