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Thermographic measurements of the commercial laser powder bed fusion process at NIST

Brandon Lane (Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA)
Shawn Moylan (Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA)
Eric P. Whitenton (Intelligent Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA)
Li Ma (Materials Science and Engineering Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 15 August 2016

1511

Abstract

Purpose

Quantitative understanding of the temperatures, gradients and heating/cooling rates in and around the melt pool in laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) is essential for simulation, monitoring and controls development. The research presented here aims to detail experiment design and preliminary results of high speed, high magnification, in-situ thermographic monitoring setup on a commercial L-PBF system designed to capture temperatures and dynamic process phenomena.

Design/methodology/approach

A custom door with angled viewport was designed for a commercial L-PBF system which allows close access of an infrared camera. Preliminary finite element simulations provided size, speed and scale requirements to design camera and optics setup to capture melt pool region temperatures at high magnification and frame rate speed. A custom thermal calibration allowed maximum measurable temperature range of 500°C to 1,025°C. Raw thermographic image data were converted to temperature assuming an emissivity of 0.5. Quantitative temperature results are provided with qualitative observations with discussion regarding the inherent challenges to future thermographic measurements and process monitoring.

Findings

Isotherms around the melt pool change in size depending on the relative location of the laser spot with respect to the stripe edges. Locations near the edges of a stripe are cooled to lower temperatures than the center of a stripe. Temperature gradients are highly localized because of rough or powdery surface. At a specific location, temperatures rise from below the measurable temperature range to above (<550°C to >1100°C) within two frames (<1.11 m/s). Particle ejection is a notable phenomenon with measured ejection speeds >11.7 m/s.

Originality/value

Several works are detailed in the Introduction of this paper that detail high-speed visible imaging (not thermal imaging) of custom or commercial LBPF processes, and lower-speed thermographic measurements for defect detection. However, no work could be found that provides calibrated, high-speed temperature data from a melt-pool monitoring configuration on a commercial L-PBF system. In addition, the paper elucidates several sources of measurement uncertainty (e.g. calibration, emissivity and time and spatial resolution), describes inherent measurement challenges based on observations of the thermal images and discusses on the implications to model validation and process monitoring and control.

Keywords

Citation

Lane, B., Moylan, S., Whitenton, E.P. and Ma, L. (2016), "Thermographic measurements of the commercial laser powder bed fusion process at NIST", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 778-787. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-11-2015-0161

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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