Two-Step Laser Post-Processing for the Surface Functionalization of Additively Manufactured Ti-6Al-4V Parts

Materials (Basel). 2020 Oct 30;13(21):4872. doi: 10.3390/ma13214872.


Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is one of the additive manufacturing methods used to build metallic parts. To achieve the design requirements, the LPBF process chain can become long and complex. This work aimed to use different laser techniques as alternatives to traditional post-processes, in order to add value and new perspectives on applications, while also simplifying the process chain. Laser polishing (LP) with a continuous wave laser was used for improving the surface quality of the parts, and an ultrashort pulse laser was applied to functionalize it. Each technique, individually and combined, was performed following distinct stages of the process chain. In addition to removing asperities, the samples after LP had contact angles within the hydrophilic range. In contrast, all functionalized surfaces presented hydrophobicity. Oxides were predominant on these samples, while prior to the second laser processing step, the presence of TiN and TiC was also observed. The cell growth viability study indicated that any post-process applied did not negatively affect the biocompatibility of the parts. The presented approach was considered a suitable post-process option for achieving different functionalities in localized areas of the parts, for replacing certain steps of the process chain, or a combination of both.

Keywords: laser polishing; laser powder bed fusion (LPBF); post-processing; surface functionalization; ultrafast laser.