South African Journal of Industrial Engineering
On-line version ISSN 2224-7890
Print version ISSN 1012-277X
LaserCUSING® is a selective laser melting (SLM) process that is capable of manufacturing parts by melting powder with heat input from a laser beam. LaserCUSING demonstrates potential for producing the intricate geometries specifically required for biomedical implants and aerospace applications. One main limitation to this form of rapid prototyping is the lack of published studies on the material performance of the resulting material. Studies of the material's performance are often complicated by dependence on several factors, including starting powder properties, laser parameters, and post-processing heat treatments. This study aims to investigate the mechanical properties of LaserCUSING-produced Ti-6Al-4V and its performance relative to the conventional wrought counterpart. A combination of conventional and LaserCUSING-tailored heat treatments is performed. The resulting microstructures are studied and linked to the properties obtained from hardness tests. The findings highlight that LaserCused Ti-6Al-4V is competitive with traditional materials, provided that optimal parameters are chosen and parts are subject to tailored post-processing. In the as-built condition, LaserCused Ti-6Al-4V displays superior strength and hardness as a result of a martensitic microstructure, and a poorer performance in ductility. However, the material performance can be improved using tailored heat treatments. Careful consideration must be given to suitable post-processing before application in critical components in the aerospace or biomedical industry can occur.