Rapid metal tooling
It has emerged, in the development word undertaken into SLS, that material characteristics as well as process parameters are of major importance. When selecting materials for SLS, attention must focus on the content of alloying elements and on their distribution. The grain size fraction distribution and grain shape, exert considerable influence on the process. It has been shown using Cu-base alloys, that the results achieved are comparable with those obtained in conventional sintering operations. The stacking of layers, however, requeres the proportion of material which melts, to be increased substanially in order to ensure optimum bonding of the layers to one another. Cu-base alloys were also investigated in relation to Laser Generating. With regard to the manufacture of electrodes for tool erosion (EDM), tests have been conducted to determine which process parameters are most suited to the development of filigree structures in these materials. The first solid sample tools have been m anufactured. The characterization of laser generated sample electrodes in terms of strength, wear resistance and electrical conductivity will be the subject of further studies. To sump up, it can be observed that the tools manufactured to date using SLS techniques Figure 14 are characterized by a high degree of form and dimensional accuracy and that those of Laser Generating process share a homogeneous structure and a high level of strength.