Using suitable process parameters is crucial for successfully generating 3D parts by means of laser-based powder bed fusion of polymers (PBF-LB/P). The decisive factor is that each material has its own specific process parameters, namely preheating temperature, laser-specific settings, coating speed and powder layer thickness. The Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH offers an efficient procedure for getting a well-suited set of process parameters for PBF-LB/P – adapted to your specific needs and material. For a deeper understanding of the process and thus even more customized selection of process parameters and for studies in the context of developing new powder materials, purpose-built characterization methods are available at Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH. On the one hand process-adapted optical properties of a powder sample can be measured with the help of a double-integrating-sphere system. Furthermore, interparticular electrostatic charging during powder coating can be analyzed for deriving hindering influences for the process.
An integral part within the scope of finding the well-suited set of process parameters is the differential scanning calorimetry (DSC-analysis) of the desired polymer powder. It provides important indications for the material-specific sintering window. Knowing this temperature window allows to find and specifically adjust preheating temperature and laser parameters taking into account curling, which is an unintended effect related to premature crystallization. Moreover, the coating speed as well as powder layer thickness are adapted in close connection to the set preheating temperature and according laser parameters. To study the bonding between single layers more in detail a thin film analysis can optionally be conducted for getting in insight into the part’s morphology. This would enable a better adjustment of the processing parameters, especially regarding laser settings.
Beyond that the Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH offers the possibility of getting process-related insights by applying purpose-built characterization methods, namely a double-integrating sphere system as well as a setup for measuring electrostatic charging during powder coating. The double-integrating-sphere system gives access to temperature-dependent optical properties at various wavelengths (e. g. 808 nm, 10.6 µm). Thus, valuable insights into the absorption behavior can be gained and used to evaluate the processibility of newly developed and / or modified feedstock materials for powder bed fusion. In addition, it has become evident that interparticular electrostatic charging can negatively affect the powder coating process. To counteract this process already during powder development, we have developed a measurement setup to analyze these interparticular electrostatic charging phenomena.
In summary, the Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH provides the possibility to efficiently get a well-suited set of parameters for PBF-LB/P. Taking into account the above-mentioned characterization methods we can in addition gain important process-related insights into the performance of a specific polymer powder and thus support the development of new powder materials for their application in PBF-LB/P.
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