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Selective laser melting of nickel powder

Chor Yen Yap (Interdisciplinary Graduate School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Hongyi Kenneth Tan (School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Zhenglin Du (School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Chee Kai Chua (School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Zhili Dong (School of Materials Science & Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 20 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Selective laser melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing technology that is gaining industrial and research interest as it can directly fabricate near full density metallic components. The paper aims to identify suitable process parameters for SLM of processing of pure nickel powder and to study the microstructure of such products. The study also aims to characterize the microhardness and tensile properties of pure nickel produced by SLM.

Design/methodology/approach

A 24 factorial design experiment was carried out to identify the most significant factors on the resultant porosity of nickel parts. A subsequent experiment was carried out with a laser power of 350 W. The scanning speeds and hatch spacings were varied.

Findings

Scanning speed and hatch spacing have significant effects on the porosity of SLM components. A high relative density of 98.9 per cent was achieved, and microhardness of 140 to 160 Hv was obtained from these samples. A tensile strength 452 MPa was obtained.

Research limitations/implications

As the energy input levels were made in steps of 20 J/mm3 for the optimization study, the true optimal combination of parameters may have been missed. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the parameters with smaller variations in energy levels.

Practical implications

The paper provides a set of optimized parameters for the SLM of pure nickel. This study enables the three-dimensional (3D) printing of objects with nickel, which has applications in chemical catalyses and in microelectromechanical systems with its magnetostrictive properties.

Originality value

This research is the first in direct processing of pure nickel using SLM, with the identification of suitable process parameters. The study also provides an understanding of the porosity, microhardness, strength and microstructure of SLM produced nickel parts. This work paves the way for standardization of 3D printed nickel components and enables the applications of pure nickel via SLM.

Keywords

Citation

Yap, C.Y., Tan, H.K., Du, Z., Chua, C.K. and Dong, Z. (2017), "Selective laser melting of nickel powder", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 750-757. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-01-2016-0006

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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