Ceramics International vol:38 issue:2 pages:1241-1247
Indirect selective laser sintering (SLS) is a promising additive manufacturing technique to produce ceramic parts with complex shapes in a two-step process. In the first step, the polymer phase in a deposited polymer/alumina composite microsphere layer is locally molten by a scanning laser beam, resulting in local ceramic particle bonding. In the second step, the binder is removed from the green parts by slowly heating and subsequently furnace sintered to increase the density. In this work, polyamide 12 and submicrometer sized alumina were used. Homogeneous spherical composite powders in the form of microspheres were prepared by a novel phase inversion technique. The composite powder showed good flowability and formability. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was used to determine the thermal properties and laser processing window of the composite powder. The effect of the laser beam scanning parameters such as laser power, scan speed and scan spacing on the fabrication of green parts was assessed. Green parts were subsequently debinded and furnace sintered to produce crack-free alumina components. The sintered density of the parts however was limited to only 50 % of the theoretical density since the intersphere space formed during microsphere deposition and SLS remained after sintering.