Spattering has been a problem in metal processing involving high-power lasers, like laser welding, machining, and recently, additive manufacturing. Limited by the capabilities of in situ diagnostic techniques, typically imaging with visible light or laboratory x-ray sources, a comprehensive understanding of the laser-spattering phenomenon, particularly the extremely fast spatters, has not been achieved yet. Here, using MHz single-pulse synchrotron-x-ray imaging, we probe the spattering behavior of Ti-6Al-4V with micrometer spatial resolution and subnanosecond temporal resolution. Combining direct experimental observations, quantitative image analysis, as well as numerical simulations, our study unravels a novel mechanism of laser spattering: The bulk explosion of a tonguelike protrusion forming on the front keyhole wall leads to the ligamentation of molten metal at the keyhole rims and the subsequent spattering. Our study confirms the critical role of melt and vapor flow in the laser-spattering process and opens a door to manufacturing spatter- and defect-free metal parts via precise control of keyhole dynamics.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lianyi-chen/17/