Additive Manufacturing

Maintenance for Laser Powder Bed Fusion 331

This class introduces users to basic Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) maintenance strategies and procedures. It provides an overview of key elements in an L-PBF maintenance process, including software, maintenance approaches, and key machine components. This class also provides general best practices for performing daily, weekly, and as-needed maintenance for L-PBF.

Improved safety and longer machine life are two of the many benefits of a well-executed maintenance routine. After taking this course, users will be able to describe best practices for L-PBF maintenance and their role in ensuring a successful L-PBF machine operation.

  • Difficulty Advanced

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 11

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Laser Powder Bed Fusion
  • Software Access Levels
  • Machine Components
  • Maintenance Approaches
  • Maintenance System Review
  • Software System Maintenance
  • Weekly Maintenance
  • Daily Maintenance
  • As-Needed Maintenance
  • Other Maintenance Considerations
  • L-PBF Maintenance Review
  • Describe L-PBF machines and their maintenance needs.
  • Contrast different software access levels for L-PBF maintenance.
  • Describe key L-PBF machine components.
  • Describe the common maintenance tasks for L-PBF operators.
  • Describe system networking for L-PBF machines
  • Describe common weekly maintenance approaches to L-PBF machines.
  • Describe common daily maintenance approaches to L-PBF.
  • Describe common as-needed maintenance approaches to L-PBF machines.
  • Describe other L-PBF machine maintenance considerations.
Vocabulary Term

access levels

The permissions or restrictions that a user has within a machine or software system. Access levels allow different personnel to use different software functions based on their job role or training.

additive manufacturing

AM. The process of joining or solidifying materials to make an object based on a three-dimensional (3D) computer model. Additive manufacturing methods typically build up layers of material to create an object.


Material that resists the flow of electricity. Antistatic material helps prevent operators from building up static charge or serving as a conduit for electricity.


A colorless, odorless non-reactive gas. Argon is sometimes used with laser powder bed fusion and typically glows blue.

atmosphere levels

The temperature and humidity inside the build chamber. Atmosphere levels in L-PBF machines are often controlled by using inert gases such as argon and neon.

build chamber

The area contained within an additive manufacturing (AM) machine where the part is actually built. Many build chambers are enclosed to improve the safety of the manufacturing operation.

build controls

Software that provides detailed instructions to an additive manufacturing machine. Build controls can included information like exact shape and size of each layer or the temperature of the build chamber.

build platform

The flat surface on which a part is additively manufactured. The build platform can either be a permanent machine surface from which parts are removed or a surface that can be removed from a machine once the build is complete.


The comparison and adjustment of a device with unknown accuracy to a device with a known, accurate standard. Calibration reduces variation in L-PBF manufactured part.


A network of remote servers that can be accessed through the internet. The cloud stores many software applications and can be used to back up data.


The way in which operating systems are arranged in a machine. Configuration by a technician often affects the way in which an additive machine produces a part.

cyber attacks

An effort to disrupt, disable, or gain illegal access to a digital device or network. Cyber attacks include hacking, phishing, and installing malware.

cyber resiliency

The ability to quickly respond to and recover from cyberattacks. Cyber resiliency differs from cybersecurity in that it reacts to breaches that do occur rather than preventing them from happening.


Protection against criminal or unauthorized access to computer networks, programs, and data. Cybersecurity has become a major industrial concern as networking and connectivity have increased.

emergency stop

E-stop. A button or switch that brings a machine to a safe, rapid stop. Emergency stops are generally large red buttons against a yellow background.

feeding system

The mechanism by which material enters the point of operation on a machine. The feeding system for laser powder bed fusion uses a recoater or powder blade to spread metal powder evenly across the build platform.


A container that holds raw materials. Hoppers store powder in an L-PBF machine.


Not chemically reactive. Inert gases provide an atmosphere that does not support chemical reactions that could cause corrosion or fire.


The examination of a part during or after its creation to confirm that it adheres to quality specifications. During inspection, defects may be identified and corrected.


A device that produces an intense beam of light that can be precisely aimed and controlled. Lasers are used in laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) and other additive manufacturing (AM) processes.

laser powder bed fusion

L-PBF. An additive manufacturing (AM) method that uses a laser to fuse or melt together layers of powdered polymer, metal, ceramic, or other material. Laser powder bed fusion processes include selective laser sintering (SLS) and selective laser melting (SLM).


A piece of glass shaped with two opposite curved surfaces that is used for directing and focusing light. A lens can be different sizes for different resolutions.

local area network

LAN. A type of wired network that enables communication between a group of computing devices in a specific geographic location. Local area networks are commonly used by manufacturers and other organizations to store and exchange digital information across a large facility.


Laser powder bed fusion. An additive manufacturing (AM) method that uses a laser to fuse or melt together layers of powdered polymer, metal, ceramic, or other material. L-PBF processes include selective laser sintering (SLS) and selective laser melting (SLM).


A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that naturally exists in the atmosphere and is non-reactive. Nitrogen is a common gas used with laser bed powder fusion.

personal protective equipment

PPE. An article of clothing or a device worn to minimize exposure to hazards and prevent injury. Personal protective equipment may include safety glasses, safety gloves, ear plugs, respirators, or steel-toed boots.

planned maintenance

PM. Maintenance that is performed purposely and regularly in order to prevent machine deterioration or breakdown. Planned maintenance is a part of total planned maintenance that keeps machines running efficiently.

planned maintenance optimization

PMO. A manufacturing improvement method that increases production and reduces waste through continuous attention to the condition of machines and processes. Planned maintenance optimization's main goal is to maximize equipment usefulness across its lifespan.


Basic tasks that an operator carries out after an AM part build is completed. Post-build tasks typically revolve around post-processing functions.

powder blade

A device that slides forwards and backwards over the surface of a powdered material in a powder bed. Powder blades are used in laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) systems to smooth powdered material layers over a part or build platform.


Basic tasks that an operator carries out before an AM part build is completed. Pre-build tasks typically revolve around setup functions.

predictive maintenance

PdM. A maintenance approach that involves collecting data related to machine operation in order to service a machine before maintenance issues arise. A predictive maintenance approach involves performing maintenance on a scheduled basis and helps prevent unscheduled downtime.

preventative maintenance

A type of maintenance performed while a component is in working order to keep it from breaking down. Preventive maintenance may include lubricating, tightening, and replacing worn parts.

process controls

A method of checking product performance and batch consistency by regularly measuring and regulating activities that yield a product. Process control involves using software to collect and analyze data with the goal of reducing errors.


An approach to manufacturing that focuses on customer satisfaction. Quality products conform to specifications, are free of defects, and meet the requirements of their anticipated use.


The ability of a machine or process to continually deliver consistent and uniform results. Repeatability is crucial for efficiently producing parts that meet quality requirements.


An interconnecting device that can connect two types of networks with different protocols, such as a local area network and a wireless network. A router determines where information packets should go and sends them to their destination by the shortest, most efficient route.

safety data sheet

SDS. Mandatory information that must accompany almost every chemical in the workplace except for items like cleaning supplies. A Safety Data Sheet includes details such as the hazards, precautions, and first-aid procedures associated with the chemical.


The physical computer that shares information with other computers within its network. The server performs specialized functions in coordination with other computers.


Filtered with a device that separates unwanted particulate matter and large particles. Sieves are often used with metal powder for additive manufacturing.

wide area network

WAN. A type of network that enables communication between devices across multiple geographic locations. Wide area networks, such as the Internet, are generally open, unsecured networks and are not recommended for exchanging sensitive information.