Abstract Melting of a subcooled two-component metal powder layer is investigated analytically. The powder bed considered consists of a mixture of two metal powders with significantly different melting points. Shrinkage induced by melting is taken into account in the physical model. The temperature distributions in the liquid and solid phases are obtained using an exact solution and an integral approximate solution, respectively. The effects of porosity, Stefan number, and subcooling on the surface temperature and solid–liquid interface are also investigated. The present work provides a strong foundation upon which the investigation of complex three-dimensional selective laser sintering (SLS) process can be based.