Method and apparatus for producing parts by selective sintering

Carl R. Deckard
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United States Patent and Trademark Office

A method and apparatus for selectively sintering a layer of powder to produce a part comprising a plurality of sintered layers. The apparatus includes a computer controlling a laser to direct the laser energy onto the powder to produce a sintered mass. The computer either determines or is programmed with the boundaries of the desired cross-sectional regions of the part. For each cross-section, the aim of the laser beam is scanned over a layer of powder and the beam is switched on to sinter only the powder within the boundaries of the cross-section. Powder is applied and successive layers sintered until a completed part is formed. The powder can comprise either plastic, metal, ceramic, or polymer substance. In the preferred embodiment, the aim of the laser is directed in a continuous raster scan and the laser turned on when the beam is aimed with the boundaries of the particular cross-section being formed.