4/13/2017 | 1 MINUTE READ

University of Sheffield Develops Diode Area Melting (DAM)

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The additive manufacturing method is said to be fast as well as energy-efficient.


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Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed a new additive manufacturing process called Diode Area Melting (DAM) that uses energy-efficient diode lasers. In contrast to laser melting systems that rely on mirros to reflect a single laser, the DAM technology melts large areas in parallel using an array of individual laser diodes. These laser beams can be switched on or off as they move across the powder bed, making the technology faster as well as more energy efficient.

“Our research challenges the long-held belief in the industry that low-power diode modules cannot achieve sufficient melting due to their low power and poor beam quality," says Dr. Kristian Groom of the  Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

“Key to the success of the DAM process was a move to shorter wavelength laser arrays (808 nm) where increased absorption of the individually collimated and focussed beams allowed melting points in excess of 1,400℃ to be reached within a few milliseconds, enabling production of fully dense stainless steel 17-4 parts,” Dr. Groom says. 

Inventors of the DAM process Dr. Groom and Dr. Kamran Mumtaz (Department of Mechanical Engineering) plan to continue the research investigating laser interaction. Broader plans are also in place for scaling up the system and extending it to polymer processing. The team believe it may be possible to combine wavelength-targeted processing of a wide range of materials in one machine.  

The research has been supported by proof of concept funding from an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) allocated impact acceleration grant (IIKE).