Harmonizing sound and light: X-ray imaging unveils acoustic signatures of stochastic inter-regime instabilities during laser melting

Nat Commun. 2023 Dec 5;14(1):8008. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-43371-3.


Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is a metal additive manufacturing technique involving complex interplays between vapor, liquid, and solid phases. Despite LPBF's advantageous capabilities compared to conventional manufacturing methods, the underlying physical phenomena can result in inter-regime instabilities followed by transitions between conduction and keyhole melting regimes - leading to defects. We investigate these issues through operando synchrotron X-ray imaging synchronized with acoustic emission recording, during the remelting processes of LPBF-produced thin walls, monitoring regime changes occurring under constant laser processing parameters. The collected data show an increment in acoustic signal amplitude when switching from conduction to keyhole regime, which we correlate to changes in laser absorptivity. Moreover, a full correlation between X-ray imaging and the acoustic signals permits the design of a simple filtering algorithm to predict the melting regimes. As a result, conduction, stable keyhole, and unstable keyhole regimes are identified with a time resolution of 100 µs, even under rapid transitions, providing a straightforward method to accurately detect undesired processing regimes without the use of artificial intelligence.