In this chapter, a three-dimensional finite element model is developed to simulate the thermal behavior of the molten pool in selective laser melting (SLM) process. Laser-based additive manufacturing (AM) is a near net shape manufacturing process able to produce 3D objects. They are layer-wise built through selective melting of a metal powder bed. The necessary energy is provided by a laser source. The interaction between laser and material occurs within a few microseconds, hence the transient thermal behavior must be taken into account. A calibration procedure is carried out to fit the numerical solution with the experimental data. Once the calibration has corrected the thermal parameters, a dynamic mesh refinement is applied to reduce the computational cost. The scanning strategy adopted by the laser is simulated by a path simulator built using MatLab®, while numerical analysis is carried out using ANSYS®, a commercial finite element software. To improve the performance of the simulation, the two codes interact each other to solve the analysis. Temperature distribution and geometrical feature of the molten pool under different process conditions are investigated. Results from the FE analysis provide guidance for setting up the optimization of process parameters and develop a base for further residual stress analysis.
Part of the book: Finite Element Method