The interplay between vapour, liquid, and solid phases in laser powder bed fusion

I. Bitharas, N. Parab, C. Zhao, T. Sun, A. D. Rollett, A. J. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


The capability of producing complex, high performance metal parts on demand has established laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) as a promising additive manufacturing technology, yet deeper understanding of the laser-material interaction is crucial to exploit the potential of the process. By simultaneous in-situ synchrotron x-ray and schlieren imaging, we probe directly the interconnected fluid dynamics of the vapour jet formed by the laser and the depression it produces in the melt pool. The combined imaging shows the formation of a stable plume over stable surface depressions, which becomes chaotic following transition to a full keyhole. We quantify process instability across several parameter sets by analysing keyhole and plume morphologies, and identify a previously unreported threshold of the energy input required for stable line scans. The effect of the powder layer and its impact on process stability is explored. These high-speed visualisations of the fluid mechanics governing LPBF enable us to identify unfavourable process dynamics associated with unwanted porosity, aiding the design of process windows at higher power and speed, and providing the potential for in-process monitoring of process stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2959
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2022


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