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Multifunction manufacturing devices use lasers to sinter powder metal

Metal components have been in production for centuries, though modern technological advances have led to the development of new ways of processing machine parts. Since the invention of lasers, for instance, industrial applications including component fabrication have been significantly impacted by the discoveries of scientists and engineers.

Another innovation that has affected the creation of parts is powder metallurgy, which allows components to be manufactured in large or small quantities efficiently and at high levels of quality. There are a variety of methods and tools for producing items with PM, according to the Metal Powder Industries Federation.

For instance, metal injection molding allows parts to be created with minimal material loss due to its character as a net-shape technique, while providing products with attributes comparable to those of substances that are wrought. The press-and-sinter approach, on the other hand, offers material conservation benefits in addition to supporting lower fabrication expenses.

Today, companies are developing devices that combine the sophisticated functionality of lasers with the advantages yielded by powder metal methods of production. Specifically, laser sintering has led to new machines capable of manufacturing precision parts.

Selective laser sintering

Sintering, along with the powder metallurgy process, has been around for millennia, though using lasers to perform fabrication procedures is a new development, according to Live Science. Joe Beaman and Carl Deckard created the selective laser sintering method in the 1980s, quickly patenting their invention.

Unlike conventional powder metallurgy, laser sintering does not produce pressed metal, but outlines portions of the desired item onto particulate material placed on a flat surface. After melting together specks of powder by tracing the initial form of the object, the underlying platform is lowered to reveal another blanket of particulates.

The machine then adds another layer that builds upon the outline previously traced by the precision melting process. Through a repeated cycle of powder melting and platform dropping, the final product eventually comes into being.

Selective laser sintering shares some of the advantages of tradition powder metallurgy, such as minimizing the use of excess materials and the need for post production alterations. Moreover, the procedure can be performed without extra apparatuses for holding the object under construction in place, distinguishing the method from fused deposition modeling and stereolithography.

Despite these advances in metal component manufacturing methods, longstanding powdered metallurgy techniques will continue to be used for their unique advantages. The use of molds, for instance, allows for both mass production and the creation of matrices suitable for the creation of custom parts for specific purposes.