Build Direction Effects on Microchannel Tolerance and Surface Roughness

Jacob C. Snyder, Curtis K. Stimpson, Karen A. Thole, Dominic J. Mongillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


With the advance of additive manufacturing (AM) processes, complex designs can be created with engineering metals. One specific advantage of this greater design space is the ability to create small internal channels and passageways for cooling high heat flux or temperature applications such as electronics and gas turbine airfoils. These applications can have complex shapes, which when coupled with the required small channel sizes, make traditional finishing processes a challenge for additively manufactured parts. Therefore, it is desirable for designers to be able to use AM parts with small internal channels that are as-built. To achieve this goal, however, designers must know how the AM process affects internal channel tolerances and roughness levels, since both impact the amount of cooling that can be achieved in actual applications. In this study, the direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process, more generically referred to as selective laser melting (SLM), was used to additively manufacture test coupons. The AM build direction was varied to study its effect on small microsized, circular channels. Specifically, X-ray computed tomography (CT-scan) was used to nondestructively inspect the interior of the test coupons. Using the data from the CT-scans, internal surface roughness, geometric tolerances, and deviations from the computer-aided design (CAD) model were calculated. In comparing the data, significant differences were seen between the three different build directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111714
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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