A conservative level set method on unstructured meshes for modeling multiphase thermo-fluid flow in additive manufacturing processes

Stephen Lin, Zhengtao Gan, Jinhui Yan, Gregory J. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Additive manufacturing (AM) is an emerging technology that fuses deposited powder materials together layer-by-layer using a localized heat source to create an arbitrarily complex geometry. This technology is an inherently multiphysics problem, involving the simultaneous evolution of fluid flow, heat transfer, free surface, laser-material interaction and material phases including solid, liquid and gas. Multiphysics and multiphase models are typically used to understand the dominant physics driving AM processes through high fidelity simulations resolving the individual powders as they melt onto the substrate. However, these types of high fidelity models have not been applicable to modeling directed energy deposition (DED) process, where powders are delivered through the ambient vapor onto the substrate by a nozzle and subsequently fused. This paper presents a novel multiphase thermo-fluid formulation for modeling DED processes. A diffuse level set formulation coupled with the Navier–Stokes, energy conservation and radiative transport equation allows us to model complex free surface, fluid flow, thermal and laser interaction evolution. In addition, our formulation enables us to resolve the vapor flow field and its effect on deposited material during AM processes. The accuracy of our proposed method is assessed by comparing with literature solutions and experimental benchmarks. Our proposed formulation is then used to model simple DED processes that enable us to visualize the entrainment of powder particles into the melt pool. This process elucidates the dominant physical forces that can drive powders into the melt pool as well as their effect on the melt pool evolution within DED processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113348
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Control volume finite element method
  • Level set method
  • Multiphase flows
  • Unstructured grid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications


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