On the role of melt flow into the surface structure and porosity development during selective laser melting

Chunlei Qiu, Chinnapat Panwisawas, Robin Ward, Hector Basoalto, Jeffery Brooks, Moataz Attallah

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In this study, the development of surface structure and porosity of Ti-6Al-4V samples fabricated by selective laser melting under different laser scanning speeds and powder layer thicknesses have been studied and correlated with the melt flow behaviour through both experimental and modelling approaches. The as-fabricated samples were investigated using optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The interaction between laser beam and powder particles was studied by both high speed imaging observation and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculation. It was found that at a high laser power and a fixed powder layer thickness (20µm), the samples contain particularly low porosity when the laser scanning speeds are below 2700mm/s. Further increase of scanning speed led to increase of porosity but not significantly. The porosity is even more sensitive to powder layer thickness with the use of thick powder layers (above 40µm) leading to significant porosity. The increase of porosity with laser scanning speed and powder layer thickness is not inconsistent with the observed increase in surface roughness complicated by increasingly irregular-shaped laser scanned tracks and an increased number of discontinuity and cave-like pores on the top surfaces. The formation of pores and development of rough surfaces were found by both high speed imaging and modelling, to be strongly associated with unstable melt flow and splashing of molten material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
Early online date12 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Selective laser melting
  • Modelling
  • Titanium alloys
  • Porosity
  • Surface structure
  • Melt flow


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