Ejecta with a size much larger than the mean particle size of feedstock powder have been observed in powder bed fusion additive manufacturing, both during post-process sieving and embedded within built components. However, their origin has not been adequately explained. Here, we test a hypothesis on the origin of large (much larger than the mass-median-diameter of feedstock powder) ejecta—that, in part, they result from stochastic, inelastic collisions of ejecta and coalescence of partially-sintered agglomerates. The hypothesis is tested using direct observation of ejecta behavior, via high-speed imaging, to identify interactions between ejecta and consequences on melt pool formation. We show that stochastic collisions occur both between particles which are nearly-simultaneously expelled from the laser interaction zone and between particles ejected from distant locations. Ejecta are also shown to perturb melt pool geometry, which is argued to be a potential cause of lack-of-fusion flaws.
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