Multi-Physics Analysis of Laser Solid Freeform Fabrication
Alimardani , Masoud
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The quality of parts fabricated using Laser Solid Freeform Fabrication (LSFF) is highly dependent on the physical phenomena and operating parameters which govern the process. For instance, the thermal stress patterns and intensity, induced throughout the process domain due to the layer-by-layer material deposition and the temperature distribution characteristics, contribute significantly to potential delamination and crack formation across the fabricated part. In this research, some of the main features as well as drawbacks of this technique are studied through a multi-physics analysis of the process. For this purpose, a coupled time-dependent 3D model is developed with which the geometry of the deposited material as well as temperature and thermal stress fields across the process domain can be predicted. In the proposed approach, coupled thermal and stress domains are numerically obtained assuming a decoupled interaction between the laser beam and powder stream. To predict the geometry of the deposited material, once the melt pool boundary is obtained, the process domain is discretized in a cross-sectional fashion based on the powder feed rate, elapsed time, and intersection of the melt pool and powder stream projected on the substrate. Layers of additive material are then added onto the non-planar domain. The main process parameters affected by a multilayer deposition due to the formation of non-planar surfaces, such as powder catchment, are incorporated into the modelling approach to enhance the accuracy of the results. To demonstrate the proposed algorithm and to study the main features of the process, a four-layer thin wall of AISI 304L steel on a substrate of the same material is numerically and experimentally fabricated. The numerical analyses along with the experimental results are then used to investigate the correlation between the temperature-thermal stress fields and crack formation across the fabricated parts. The trend of the results reveals that by preheating the substrate prior to the fabrication process, it is possible to substantially reduce the formed micro-cracks. To demonstrate the feasibility of preheating on the reduction of micro-cracks, several simulations and experiments are performed in which a crack-free result is obtained, with a 22 per cent reduction in thermal stresses when the substrate is preheated to 800 K. The numerical and experimental results are also used to study the circumstances of the microstructural formation during the fabrication process. To conclude this research, the developed modelling approach is further extended to briefly discuss the effects of the path patterns and the main operating parameters on the outcomes of the process. The effects of the material properties and their variations on the temperature distributions and thermal stress fields are studied by fabrication of a thin wall of two Stellite 6 layers and two Ti layers on a stainless steel substrate.