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  1. null (Ed.)
    Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is an additive manufacturing technology with the capability of printing complex metal parts directly from digital models. Between two available emission modes employed in LPBF printing systems, pulsed wave (PW) emission provides more control over the heat input compared to continuous wave (CW) emission, which is highly beneficial for printing parts with intricate features. However, parts printed with pulsed wave LPBF (PW-LPBF) commonly contain pores, which degrade their mechanical properties. In this study, we reveal pore formation mechanisms during PW-LPBF in real time by using an in-situ high-speed synchrotron x-ray imaging technique. We found that vapor depression collapse proceeds when the laser irradiation stops within one pulse, resulting in occasional pore formation during PW-LPBF. We also revealed that the melt ejection and rapid melt pool solidification during pulsed-wave laser melting resulted in cavity formation and subsequent formation of a pore pattern in the melted track. The pore formation dynamics revealed here may provide guidance on developing pore elimination approaches. 
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  2. In powder-bed-based metal additive manufacturing (AM), the visualization and analysis of the powder spreading process are critical for understanding the powder spreading dynamics and mechanisms. Unfortunately, the high spreading speeds, the small size of the powder, and the opacity of the materials present a great challenge for directly observing the powder spreading behavior. Here, we report a compact and flexible powder spreading system for in situ characterization of the dynamics of the powders during the spreading process by high-speed x-ray imaging. The system enables the tracing of individual powder movement within the narrow gap between the recoater and the substrate at variable spreading speeds from 17 to 322 mm/s. The instrument and method reported here provide a powerful tool for studying powder spreading physics in AM processes and for investigating the physics of granular material flow behavior in a confined environment.

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  3. Abstract

    Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is a 3D printing technology that can print metal parts with complex geometries without the design constraints of traditional manufacturing routes. However, the parts printed by LPBF normally contain many more pores than those made by conventional methods, which severely deteriorates their properties. Here, by combining in-situ high-speed high-resolution synchrotron x-ray imaging experiments and multi-physics modeling, we unveil the dynamics and mechanisms of pore motion and elimination in the LPBF process. We find that the high thermocapillary force, induced by the high temperature gradient in the laser interaction region, can rapidly eliminate pores from the melt pool during the LPBF process. The thermocapillary force driven pore elimination mechanism revealed here may guide the development of 3D printing approaches to achieve pore-free 3D printing of metals.

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  4. Laser powder bed fusion is a dominant metal 3D printing technology. However, porosity defects remain a challenge for fatigue-sensitive applications. Some porosity is associated with deep and narrow vapor depressions called keyholes, which occur under high-power, low–scan speed laser melting conditions. High-speed x-ray imaging enables operando observation of the detailed formation process of pores in Ti-6Al-4V caused by a critical instability at the keyhole tip. We found that the boundary of the keyhole porosity regime in power-velocity space is sharp and smooth, varying only slightly between the bare plate and powder bed. The critical keyhole instability generates acoustic waves in the melt pool that provide additional yet vital driving force for the pores near the keyhole tip to move away from the keyhole and become trapped as defects.

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