3D multi-layer grain structure simulation of powder bed fusion additive manufacturing

Abstract

In powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing, powder layers are locally melted with a laser or an electron beam to build a component. Hatching strategies and beam parameters as beam power, scan velocity and line offset significantly affect the grain structure of the manufactured part. While experiments reveal the result of specific parameter combinations, the precise impact of distinct parameters on the resulting grain structure is widely unknown. This knowledge is necessary for a reliable prediction of the microstructure and consequently the mechanical properties of the manufactured part.

We introduce the adaption of a three-dimensional model for the prediction of dendritic growth for use with PBF. The heat input is calculated using an analytical solution of the transient heat conduction equation. Massively parallel processing on a high-performance cluster computer allows the computation of the grain structure on the scale of small parts within reasonable times.

The model is validated by accurately reproducing experimental grain structures of Inconel 718 test specimens manufactured by selective electron beam melting. The grain selection zone within the first layers as well as the subsequent microstructure in several millimeters build height is modeled in unprecedented level of detail. This model represents the cutting-edge of grain structure simulation in PBF and enables a reliable numerical prediction of appropriate beam parameters for arbitrary applications.

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