Atmosphere

The composition of the laser sintering atmosphere is a key consideration due to the extreme reactivity of molten metals. Most common metals will oxidize rapidly in ordinary air when melted by a high energy laser. As a result, metal printing is usually preformed in an inert atmosphere or a near complete vacuum. A vacuum based approach requires the whole print bed and laser system to be contained in a strong and airtight enclosure which can be costly to build and maintain. Our approach uses an inert atmosphere, allowing for a much simpler simpler enclosure and improved reliability. The current printer prototype uses an inert argon environment, leveraging standard welding tanks and regulators to store and meter the gas.