Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, is a technology that can grow an object from scratch by precisely adding material where needed. Many techniques are used in this field and all benefit from the digitalization of the manufacturing processes and the generalization of laser tools.
Lasers are widely used to deliver energy precisely to the area where the material is transformed. Many processes can take place including melting, polymerization, sintering, welding… In all cases the way in which the laser interacts with the added material is critical for the strength and precision of the final part, and indeed also the process speed. The transverse intensity profile of the laser beam plays an important role in the interaction between light and matter as also do the wavelength, operating mode, polarization, etc. The laser beam intensity profile can be effectively adapted using the Cailabs CANUNDA solution.
A precisely tailored laser beam shape improves:
Quality: the material exposed to laser radiation is homogeneously transformed thus preventing material projections and defects. A tailored cooling gradient also prevents cracks and improves the mechanical properties of the part.
Speed: the adapted laser beam shape helps to increase the process speed by increasing the feed rate or allowing multiple in-parallel material feeds.
The following 3D printing techniques can benefit from laser beam shaping: