Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is an additive metal fabrication technology. This process involves the use of a 3D CAD model whereby a .stl file is interpreted by the machine’s software. A technician works with this 3D Model to orient the part for building and adds supports structure where needed. Once this file has been completed, it is "cut" into the layer thickness the machine will build in. It is also downloaded to the DMLS machine and the process can begin. The DMLS machine uses a high-powered optic laser. DMLS technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it. It does this by using a focused laser beam. Parts are built up layer-by-later, usually around 20 micrometers thin. This process allows for detailed structures to be created directly from the 3D CAD files (automatically) within hours and DMLS does not require special tooling like castings, so it is convenient for short production runs. This decreased time to project completion is a great advantage of DMLS. Because DMLS is compatible with most alloys, prototypes can now be fully functioning hardware made materials that are the same as production components.