Direct Metal Laser Sintering – DMLS
Direct Metal Laser Sintering – DMLS uses a precise laser beam to micro-weld powdered metals and alloys to form fully functional metal components based on CAD data. DMLS eliminates time-consuming tooling, and creates complex geometries not possible with other metal manufacturing processes (undercuts, hidden features, internal cavities, etc…). Made from materials such as Inconel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, and Titanium, DMLS parts are strong, durable, and heat-resistant. Additionally, DMLS parts are also denser than investment casted metal parts because the grain structure is more controlled and packed closely together than in conventional casting methods. This accurate metal 3D printing process provides fine feature detail; making it ideal for complex oil and gas components, custom medical guides, consolidated aerospace parts, and tough functional prototypes.
The main difference between SLM and DSLM technologies is the degree to which the particles are melted; where they are not completely melted with DMLS. In other words, if one is working with an alloy, one would use DMLS since it does not melt the entire metal powder completely; where if one is working with pure titanium for example; they would use SLM to get a homogeneous material.
One can consolidate design and optimize value by allowing users to integrate multiple components; such as, air ducts, fixtures, or mountings holding specific aeronautic instruments into a single, strong metal part. This reduces weight, cuts down waste, and saves the time and resources needed for assembly.
Because DMLS can use most alloys, prototypes can be functional hardware made from the exact same material as the eventual production parts. This technique makes adding internal features and/or passages into the part’s design since it’s created layer by layer. DMLS produces metal parts with the same speed as plastic parts and has the potential to transition into metal injection molding once the need for increased production is identified.
When it comes to applications in the medical sector, proof must often be provided of the origins and composition of the material used. The patient’s individual anatomy is the key factor in medical implants and meeting the patient’s specific anatomic requirements reduces not only the length of time spent in hospital, but also the risk of infection normally caused by ill-fitting implants, which consequently reduces healthcare costs.
During the early stages of product development, DMLS can help by making design and functional prototypes available. As a result, functional testing can be initiated quickly and flexibly. At the same time, these prototypes can be used to gauge potential customer acceptance. Internal communication within and between teams can be facilitated by the availability of product models. This results in reduced time to market and shortened reaction times to current customer demands. Gradually, the risks involved in developing new products decrease, because problems can be detected sooner and be directly addressed. Development costs are reduced, and at the same time, consumer response is accelerated.