Direct Metal Laser Sintering

What is Direct Metal Laser Sintering?

Direct Metal Laser sintering or DMLS for short is a form of 3D printing which involves a thin layer of very fine metal powder which is melted and fused together with a powerful laser building on each successive layer to grow the part. It is a relatively old form of additive manufacturing dating back to the mid-90s but has and still is limited to industrial markets due to the costs associated with owning and operating a machine.

Why would I use this process to create a 3D part?

DMLS/DMP/SLS allow for complex geometries to be created in materials ranging from nylon to super alloys like Inconel, allowing users to create production grade parts which were previously impossible to make using traditional subtractive means.

Benefits of DMLS/DMP/SLS over other processes:

  • Very dense, non-porous parts

  • Durable metal parts for functional prototypes or end-use production

  • Complex geometries compared to subtractive manufacturing

  • Lower relative costs compared to traditional manufacturing of similarly complex parts

Drawbacks of DMLS/DMP/SLS over other processes:

  • High startup costs compared to other additive processes

  • Surface finish is quite granular and requires extensive post-processing to achieve mirror finishes seen in subtractive manufacturing

  • Parts are welded to a steel build plate requiring significant post-processing to remove it