Selective Laser Melting (SLM), a laser powder-bed fusion (PBF-L) additive manufacturing method, utilizes a laser to selectively fuse adjacent metal powders. The powders are aligned in a bed that moves vertically to allow for layer-by-layer part construction-Process-related heat transfer and thermal gradients have a strong influence on the microstructural features, and subsequent mechanical properties, of the parts fabricated via SLM. In order to understand and control the heat transfer inherent to SLM, and to ensure high quality parts with targeted microstructures and mechanical properties, comprehensive knowledge of the related energy and mass transport during manufacturing is required. In this study, the transient temperature distribution within and around parts being fabricated via SLM is numerically simulated and the results are provided to aid in quantify the SLM heat transfer. In order to verify simulation output, and to estimate actual thermal gradients and heat transfer, experiments were separately conducted within a SLM machine using a substrate with embedded thermocouples. The experiments focused on characterizing heat fluxes during initial deposition on an initially-cold substrate and during the fabrication of a thin-walled structure built via stainless steel 17-4 powders. Results indicate that it is important to model heat transfer thorough powder bed as well as substrate.

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