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Direct Metal Laser Sintering: an additive manufacturing technology ready to produce lightweight structural parts for robotic applications

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Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is an additive manufacturing (AM) technology for the fabrication of near netshaped parts directly from computer-aided design (CAD) data by melting together different layers with the help of a laser source. Its application for manufacturing three- dimensional objects represents one of the promising directions to solve challenging industrial problems. This approach permits to extend significantly the freedom of design and manufacture by allowing, for example, to create an object with desired shape and internal structure in a single fabrication step. The design of the part can be tailored to meet specific functions and properties (e.g. physical, mechanical, chemical, biological, etc.) using different materials. In this paper a DMLS machine was used for robotic lightweight components fabrication in an aluminium alloy. It was observed that DMLS technology not only achieved very interesting mechanical properties thanks to the very fine microstructure, but also can easily promote the development and study of lightweight lattice structures. In addition, it is envisaged to develop new custom materials, such as light metal matrix composites, suitable for the DMLS process, broadening the range of applications in different fields like space, aviation, automotive and other industries
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