Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an Additive Manufacturing method that uses high powered laser to melt metallic powders together to shape the product from a 3D CAD data. Renishaw, the founder of this technique, uses a high powered ytterbium fibre laser to fuse metal powders. The recoater sweeps a layer of fine material powder and makes it ready for the laser to fuse them according to the 2D cross section of each layer under a tightly controlled inert atmosphere. When the part is made completely, it goes for the required heat treatment and post processing. Typical applications for laser melting technology are functional testing of production quality prototypes, manufacturing of organic or highly complex geometries, low volume manufacturing of complex metal parts in specialist materials.
The industry standard term, chosen by the ASTM F42 standards committee, is laser sintering, although this is acknowledged as a misnomer because the process fully melts the metal into a solid homogeneous mass. The process is also sometimes referred to by the trade names DMLS or LaserCusing. A similar process is Electron beam melting (EBM), which, as the name suggests, uses an electron beam as the energy source.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM) video