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Method and Apparatus for Manufacturing and 3D Printing Metal Parts

This method, apparatus, and procedure of a new additive manufacturing (AM) technology for manufacturing 3D metal parts is introduced by researchers at Missouri S&T. Instead of using metal powders, the new method uses metal foils of different thicknesses as raw material. The procedure consists of two alternative processes: one is foil-welding by a CW (continuous wave) fiber laser with a scanner, and the other is foil-cutting by UV laser with a 3-axis motion stage. The reason for using two lasers, a scanner and a motion stage is to achieve simultaneously the high-speed and high-precision manufacturing. Two 3D steel parts fabricated by the proposed AM technology are presented, and the results have demonstrated that complete fusions between foil layers, without pores or microcracks, are achieved. The cutting edges are clean without burr and the heat-affected zone (HAZ) is extremely small . The Vickers micro-hardness of the as-fabricated part is slightly greater than that of the raw foil. As heat-input for the laser foil-welding and foil-cutting is well controlled, the entire process and the surroundings remain at low temperatures.

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Missouri S&T

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