A technology developed at Graz University of Technology in Austria uses LED instead of laser sources for the additive manufacturing of metal parts. Researchers say it optimizes 3D metal printing in terms of construction time, metal-powder consumption, equipment costs and post-processing effort. Selective LED-based melting (SLEDM) is the targeted melting of metal powder using high-power LED light sources.

The technology is similar to selective laser melting (SLM) and electron-beam melting (EBM), in which metal powder is melted by means of a laser or electron beam and built up into a component layer by layer. SLEDM, however, solves two central problems of these powder-bed-based manufacturing processes: the time-consuming production of large-volume metal components and time-consuming manual post-processing.

Unlike the SLM or EBM processes, the SLEDM process uses a high-power LED beam to melt the metal powder. This technology is combined with a newly designed production plant that adds the component from top to bottom. The component is thus exposed, the required amount of powder is reduced to a minimum and the necessary post-processing can be carried out during the printing process.

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