• laser melting;
  • free surface flow;
  • thermocapillary convection;
  • curved free surface;
  • surface topography;
  • numerical analysis


The quantitative correlations between workpiece volume and melt pool geometry, as well as the flow and thermal features of the melt pool are established. Thermocapillary convections in melt pool with a deformable free surface are investigated with respect to surface shape and laser intensity. When the contact angle between the tangent to the top surface and the vertical wall at the hot center is acute, the free surface flattens, compared with that of the initial free surface. Otherwise, the free surface forms a bowl-like shape with a deep crater and a low peripheral rim when the contact angle at the hot center is obtuse. Increasing the workpiece volume at a fixed laser intensity and a negative radial height gradient cause linear decreases in the geometric size and magnitude of flow and temperature of the melt pool. Conversely, linear increases are observed with a positive radial height gradient. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012