PurposeSelective laser melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing technology that is gaining industrial and research interest as it can directly fabricate near full density metallic components. The paper aims to identify suitable process parameters for SLM of processing of pure nickel powder and to study the microstructure of such products. The study also aims to characterize the microhardness and tensile properties of pure nickel produced by SLM.Design/methodology/approachA 24 factorial design experiment was carried out to identify the most significant factors on the resultant porosity of nickel parts. A subsequent experiment was carried out with a laser power of 350 W. The scanning speeds and hatch spacings were varied.FindingsScanning speed and hatch spacing have significant effects on the porosity of SLM components. A high relative density of 98.9 per cent was achieved, and microhardness of 140 to 160 Hv was obtained from these samples. A tensile strength 452 MPa was obtained.Research limitations/implicationsAs the energy input levels were made in steps of 20 J/mm3 for the optimization study, the true optimal combination of parameters may have been missed. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the parameters with smaller variations in energy levels.Practical implicationsThe paper provides a set of optimized parameters for the SLM of pure nickel. This study enables the three-dimensional (3D) printing of objects with nickel, which has applications in chemical catalyses and in microelectromechanical systems with its magnetostrictive properties.Originality valueThis research is the first in direct processing of pure nickel using SLM, with the identification of suitable process parameters. The study also provides an understanding of the porosity, microhardness, strength and microstructure of SLM produced nickel parts. This work paves the way for standardization of 3D printed nickel components and enables the applications of pure nickel via SLM.
Rapid Prototyping Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 20, 2017
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