Research on the selective laser melting (SLM) method of laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM) has shown that surface and internal quality of AM parts is directly related to machine settings such as laser energy density, scanning strategies, and atmosphere. To optimize laser parameters for improved component quality, the energy density is typically controlled via laser power, scanning rate, and scanning strategy, but can also be controlled by changing the spot size via laser focal plane shift. Present work being conducted by The Aerospace Corporation was initiated after observing inconsistent build quality of parts printed using OEM-installed settings. Initial builds of Inconel 718 witness geometries using OEM laser parameters were evaluated for surface roughness, density, and porosity while varying energy density via laser focus shift. Based on these results, hardware and laser parameter adjustments were conducted in order to improve build quality and consistency. Tensile testing was also conducted to investigate the effect of build plate location and laser settings on SLM 718. This work has provided insight into the limitations of OEM parameters compared with optimized parameters towards the goal of manufacturing aerospace-grade parts, and has led to the development of a methodology for laser parameter tuning that can be applied to other alloy systems. Additionally, evidence was found that for 718, which derives its strength from post-manufacturing heat treatment, there is a possibility that tensile testing may not be perceptive to defects which would reduce component performance. Ongoing research is being conducted towards identifying appropriate testing and analysis methods for screening and quality assurance.