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Modes of laser melting in additive manufacturing of metals



Cang Zhao, Bo Shi, Shuailei Chen, Tao Sun, Brian Simonds, Anthony Rollett


In the laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing of metals, extreme thermal conditions create many highly dynamic physical phenomena, such as vaporization and recoil, Marangoni convection, and protrusion and keyhole instability. Collectively, however, the full set of phenomena is too complicated for practical applications and, in reality, the melting modes are used as a guideline for printing. With an increasing local material temperature beyond the boiling point, the mode can change from conduction to keyhole. These mode designations ignore laser-matter interaction details but in many cases are adequate to determine the approximate microstructures, and hence the properties of the build. To date no consistent, common, and coherent definitions have been agreed upon because of historic limitations in melt pool and vapor depression morphology measurements. In this review, process-based definitions of different melting modes are distinguished from those based on postmortem evidence. The latter are derived mainly from the transverse cross sections of the fusion zone, whereas the former come directly from time-resolved x-ray imaging of melt pool and vapor depression morphologies. These process-based definitions are more strict and physically sound, and they offer new guidelines for laser additive manufacturing practices and create new research directions. The significance of the keyhole, which substantially enhances the laser energy absorption by the melt pool, is highlighted. Recent studies strongly suggest that stable-keyhole laser melting enables efficient, sustainable, and robust additive manufacturing. The realization of this scenario demands the development of multiphysics models, signal translations from morphology to other feasible signals, and in-process metrology across platforms and scales.
Reviews of Modern Physics


Zhao, C. , Shi, B. , Chen, S. , Sun, T. , Simonds, B. and Rollett, A. (2022), Modes of laser melting in additive manufacturing of metals, Reviews of Modern Physics, [online],, (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created October 20, 2022, Updated March 28, 2023