[[File:3D Printed Jet Turbine.PNG|thumb|left]]
- Sourcing Low Cost Laser Modules that have a High Enough Sintering Power
- Sourcing Low Cost Laser Scanners
- Cooling the Lasers
- Defining the Scan Speed
- Mounting all of the Hardware
- Getting an Even Powder Distribution on each Layer
- Documenting How to Handle Powders Safely
- Developing an Efficient Powder Recycling System
- Working out Dimensions for the Powder Containers
Software and Electronics
- Developing and Interface Between the Laser Scanner Software and a Slicer Program
- Controlling the Powder Valves, Powder Roller and Z-Axis timing
- Developing a Friendly User Interface
- Designing a Gas-Tight Build Chamber
- Designing a Powder Proof build area and Z-Axes
- Designing a Rack Type System for Enclosing the Equipment
In addition to the challenges faced above, there are inherent issues related to the actual Direct Metal Laser Sintering process itself. These technical issues can be described as follows...
- Warping of the Printed Parts due to Shrinkage during Cooling
- Removing Powder From Enclosed Spaces
- Powdery Surface Textures of the Finished Part
- Preventing Powder from Clogging the Moving Parts
Other Important Goals include gaining more data on laser sintering. Unfortunately commercial enterprises like EOS, Arcam and 3DSystems are very closed in terms of their production processes. This means that we need to start
from the ground up! Data is good... the more Data the better! Experiments can be on a wide range of things. The ideal metal for use in a Metalbot would be Titanium in a TI-AL6-V4 alloy but there are many different metals that are
used in manufacture today, such as aluminium. Each metal and each alloy posses different sintering temperatures. We need to log the effects of different wavelengths and different laser powers on the wide range of metals in use
today. Our work can be set out as follows...
- The minimum laser power (in Watts) needed to fully sinter a given area (square mm) of a given powder (material needs to be specified) and powder granule size (in microns) for a given layer thickness (in microns) and a given
wavelength (nanometers) and time spent over the area (seconds).
- The effects of powder granule size on the sintering process.
- The effects of powder layer thickness on the sintering process.
- How to increase density of the sintered material.
- Dealing with ventilation of inert gasses.
- Dealing with the health hazards of metal powders.
This project is in the very early stages. As the community and knowledge increases, the problems and issues will become more specific!