Measuring the effects of a laser beam on melt pool fluctuation in arc additive manufacturing
Purpose: The steadily growing popularity of additive manufacturing (AM) increases the demand for understanding fundamental behaviors of these processes. High-speed imaging (HSI) can be a useful tool to observe these behaviors, but many studies only present qualitative analysis. The purpose of this paper is to propose an algorithm-assisted method as an intermediate to rapidly quantify data from HSI. Here, the method is used to study melt pool surface profile movement in a cold metal transfer-based (CMT-based) AM process, and how it changes when the process is augmented with a laser beam. Design/methodology/approach: Single-track wide walls are generated in multiple layers using only CMT, CMT with leading and with trailing laser beam while observing the processes using HSI. The studied features are manually traced in multiple HSI frames. Algorithms are then used for sorting measurement points and generating feature curves for easier comparison. Findings: Using this method, it is found that the fluctuation of the melt surface in the chosen CMT AM process can be reduced by more than 35 per cent with the addition of a laser beam trailing behind the arc. This indicates that arc and laser can be a viable combination for AM. Originality/value: The suggested quantification method was used successfully for the laser-arc hybrid process and can also be applied for studies of many other AM processes where HSI is implemented. This can help fortify and expand the understanding of many phenomena in AM that were previously too difficult to measure.