Additive manufacturing’s promise to revolutionize industry is constrained by a widespread problem: tiny gas pockets in the final product, which can lead to cracks and other failures. Research published recently in Science, led by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Argonne National Laboratory, identified how and when these gas pockets form, as well as a methodology to predict their formation.

The scientists used the extremely bright high-energy X-rays at Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to take super-fast video and images of a process called laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), in which lasers are used to melt and fuse material powder together.

The lasers, which scan over each layer of powder to fuse metal where it is needed, literally create the finished product from the ground up. Defects can form when pockets of gas become trapped into these layers, causing imperfections that could lead to cracks or other breakdowns in the final product.

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