HOPKINSON, N. and SERCOMBE, T.B., 2008. Process repeatability and sources of error in indirect SLS of aluminium. Rapid prototyping journal, 14 (2), pp. 108-113
Purpose - This paper investigates the accuracy and repeatability of the indirect selective laser sintering of aluminium process.
Design/Methodology/Approach – In this paper we characterised the shrinkage of indirect SLS aluminium parts during the various stages of production. Standard scale parts were measured using a Giddings and Lewis co-ordinate measuring machine in both the green and infiltrated condition.
Findings – The conducted experiments show that the most accuracy is lost during furnace cycle and that the greatest loss of accuracy occurred in the Z dimensions. Additionally the position of parts within the part bed in both X, Y and Z is shown to influence accuracy, with smaller parts being built closer to the edge of the bed later in the build. These results have been interpreted as being a result of the phenomenon of “Z-growth”. Finally the research shows that the overall accuracy of the indirect selective laser sintering of aluminium process is comparable with many existing processes such as investment casting.
Originality/Value – Before any new material can be accepted, there is a need to not only fully characterise the dimensional accuracy attainable, but gain a though understanding of the processes that contribute to the inaccuracies. This paper addresses this need.