2012 - Rapid Jewelry Manufacturing by Laser Melting of Precious Metal Powders(PLM): Fiction of Future?

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2012 - Rapid Jewelry Manufacturing by Laser Melting of Precious Metal Powders(PLM): Fiction of Future?

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Powder Laser Melting (PLM) is an innovative manufacturing technology that initially was adopted from rapid prototyping of steel or titanium parts for aerospace, automotive and other high-tech applications, and from there converted into a rapid manufacturing technology for manifold areas including the medical and dental industries (for example, titanium implants, cobalt-chromium crowns and bridges). 3D CAD data are sliced into thin layers and imported into a dedicated PLM machine. During the so-called additive layer manufacturing process, thin layers of metal powder are consecutively generated and selectively fused together by the laser beam as determined by the geometries predefined in the CAD dataset. This paper reports on the potential of this technology for rapid jewelry manufacturing. The characteristics of available metal alloy powders (18K gold, 925 silver, bronze, etc.) as well as corresponding PLM process parameters (laser power, speed, etc.) and metallurgical investigations on PLM parts are discussed. Examples of real jewelry parts indicate the unique potential of this technology to create jewelry design that is impossible or at least very difficult and time-consuming to produce with conventional manufacturing methods. Further important processing aspects like post-treatment, surface finishing, powder material demand, and consumption are discussed.

Authors: Dr. Dr. Jörg Fischer Bühner, Dr. Andrea Basso, Riccardo Bertoncello, Massimo Poliero

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