The DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) process was added by Forecast 3D in 2006 for additively manufactured parts in pure metal alloys. We have discovered many applications where additively manufacturing a metal alloy part at 40 micron layers feeds a niche market for complex geometries, replacing the need for fourth and fifth axis machining.
The DMLS process has quickly become the preferred method of additive 3D prototyping and manufacturing for metals. In this process, powdered metal is sintered at 20-micron layers, which are then drawn in the X and Y-axes before the build tray lowers 40 microns. The recoater then sweeps over a new layer of powder 40 microns thin and allows a new layer to be sintered on the previously sintered layer.
As the layers are sintered a support structure is required, much like the SLA 3D rapid prototyping process. The support material is “scaffolding” sintered alongside to support upcoming build geometry. Dependent upon part geometry and orientation, the parts then go through a series of post processes, including heat-treating, EDM support removal and final surface finish treatments.
DMLS allows complex rapid prototypes and parts to be built in days versus weeks and is quickly replacing the need for expensive fourth and fifth axis machining or investment casting.