Selective laser melting (SLM) shows a positive prospect as an additive manufacturing (AM) technique for fabrication of 3D parts with complicated structures. A transient thermal model was developed by the finite element method (FEM) to simulate the thermal behavior for predicting the time evolution of temperature field and melt pool dimensions of Ti6Al4V powder during SLM. The FEM predictions were then compared with published experimental measurements and calculation results for model validation. This study applied the design of experiment (DOE) scheme together with the response surface method (RSM) to conduct the regression analysis based on four processing parameters (exactly, the laser power, scanning speed, preheating temperature and hatch space) for predicting the dimensions of the melt pool in SLM. The preliminary RSM results were used to quantify the effects of those parameters on the melt pool size. The process window was further implemented via two criteria of the width and depth of the molten pool to screen impractical conditions of four parameters for including the practical ranges of processing parameters. The FEM simulations confirmed the good accuracy of the critical RSM models in the predictions of melt pool dimensions for three typical SLM working scenarios.
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