Laser Assisted Net Shape Engineering 9 International Conference on Photonic Technologies - LANE 2016 location:Fürth, Germany date:19-22 September
This work investigates the influence of powder size/shape on selective laser sintering (SLS) of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastomer. It examines a TPU powder which had been cryogenically milled in two different sizes; coarse powder (D50∼200μm) with rough surfaces in comparison with a fine powder (D50∼63μm) with extremely fine flow additives. It is found that the coarse powder coalesces at lower temperatures and excessively smokes during the SLS processing. In comparison, the fine powder with flow additives is better processable at significantly higher powder bed temperatures, allowing a lower optimum laser energy input which minimizes smoking and degradation of the polymer. In terms of mechanical properties, good coalescence of both powders lead to parts with acceptable shear-punch strengths compared to injection molded parts. However, porosity and degradation from the optimum SLS parameters of the coarse powder drastically reduce the tensile properties to about one-third of the parts made from the fine powders as well as those made by injection molding (IM).