Design Guideline: Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is an additive manufacturing process. Parts are built using a laser to selectively sinter (heat and fuse) a powdered metal material into layers.

The process begins once a 3D CAD file is mathematically sliced into multiple 2D cross sections and uploaded into the system. A ceramic blade pushes build material from a powder supply to create a uniform layer over a build piston platform. The laser scanning system literally draws the 2D cross section on the surface of the build material, sintering it into a solid form.

After the first layer is produced, the build piston is lowered and another powder layer is pushed into place using the ceramic blade, and the laser sinters the second layer. This process is repeated until the part is complete. Layer-by-layer manufacturing allows for the direct fabrication of complex parts that would be cost-prohibitive, and often impossible, to produce through traditional manufacturing processes.

DMLS Technology Considerations

Parts can be manufactured using DMLS in a variety of metal and alloy materials. Geometries remain fixed to a base plate during the building process via a support structure and are separated afterwards by breaking away the supports. It is not possible, however, to build detached parts, which can be done when making plastic laser sintered parts.

When working with DMLS, only relevant geometries should be built. Superfluous volumes should be avoided when using this technology. This is because build volume (the amount of material to be solidified), along with the number of layers is what determines the production time and costs, not the complexity of the geometry. 

Overall, the most ideal geometries are small, self-supporting parts that would be difficult to manufacture through machining, are too expensive to investment cast, or are metal parts requiring short lead times.

Learn more about design considerations and key technology information on DMLS by downloading the design guide.

 

Download the Design Guide

Direct Metal Laser Sintering Resources

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