As with standard SLM, the general application of the SLAM process is the manufacture of metal components that have complex geometries not efficiently obtainable by other means, or that require production in low quantities (e.g., replacement of legacy parts) that is too expensive for conventional manufacturing. The number of specific component applications from aerospace and other sectors is vast. The value of SLAM to practitioners of SLM at NASA is the improvement of several aspects of the SLM process, including: Improved resolution and finer feature size, process reliability and success rate, Reduced post-processing needs, in-process monitoring for process qualification, closed-loop feedback control, final inspection of component geometry, and the Materials Genome Initiative where the micromachining capabilities of SLAM will facilitate improved model validation capability. For specific NASA applications we envision SLAM being highly useful for low-volume space platform components of complex geometry and structure. The micromachining capability brought to bear in this project may also have great application in other NASA AM processes, such as electron-beam powder bed processes and EBF3. In electron-beam powder bed processes the entire powder bed is loosely sintered to the finished components. With in situ micromachining this sintered powder would be separated from the components, drastically reducing post-processing needs.
SLAM represents a new AM process with many advantages over SLM, and other, processes. Therefore, much like with NASA specific applications, the number of Non-NASA commercial applications are vast. Nevertheless, there is significant overlap with NASA applications in the aerospace industry, where new AM processes are consistently sought after for developing superior rocket motor and jet engine components, as well as less flight critical components. A recent example from Luna Innovations is the AM of aerodynamic components with embedded fiber-optic sensors, the micron-precision SLAM will bring to bear will greatly enhance this work, and facilitate multidimensional fiber channels. In addition to LUNA, Resonetics, a leading laser-based medical device manufacturer, would benefit tremendously from the ability to produce customized micro-medical devices. These may include complex stents for arterial junctions, neurological probes, and other applications - current AM techniques are not adequate for this work. Other government agencies have potential applications as well, including the Army Research and Development Engineering Center who are seeking advanced AM technology for enhanced munitions technologies. Finally, SLAM has potential application as a research and development test-bed at Universities and other R&D groups, who seek low-cost, customizable AM technology.