Post-processing of 3D-printed parts using femtosecond and picosecond laser radiation
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D-printing, is a near-net shape manufacturing approach, delivering part geometry that can be considerably affected by various process conditions, heat-induced distortions, solidified melt droplets, partially fused powders, and surface modifications induced by the manufacturing tool motion and processing strategy. High-repetition rate femtosecond and picosecond laser radiation was utilized to improve surface quality of metal parts manufactured by laser additive techniques. Different laser scanning approaches were utilized to increase the ablation efficiency and to reduce the surface roughness while preserving the initial part geometry. We studied post-processing of 3D-shaped parts made of Nickel- and Titanium-base alloys by utilizing Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) as additive manufacturing techniques. Process parameters such as the pulse energy, the number of layers and their spatial separation were varied. Surface processing in several layers was necessary to remove the excessive material, such as individual powder particles, and to reduce the average surface roughness from asdeposited 22-45 mm to a few microns. Due to the ultrafast laser-processing regime and the small heat-affected zone induced in materials, this novel integrated manufacturing approach can be used to post-process parts made of thermally and mechanically sensitive materials, and to attain complex designed shapes with micrometer precision.