Characterizing Polymer Melts for 3D Printing

Presented by Adam Harris and Arya Hakimian


Polymer Melts

3D printing extrusion process, it is important to understand the thermal conductivity of the polymer melt to get an accurate picture of how the end product will behave.

Extrusion-based 3D printing processes involve heating polymeric materials to a flowable state close to their melting point. This process requires tight temperature control to ensure optimal quality of the produced part. The thermodynamic processes involved in this operation are extremely complex and highly dependent on the materials used, environmental conditions, deposition/flow rates, etc. As such, optimization for these processes can be challenging and a thorough understanding of the thermophysical properties of the system and feedstock are therefore crucial. In particular, thermal conductivity (k) plays a key role in terms of modeling the thermal management of these processes and the related cooling kinetics.

There are a wide variety of materials that can be used in these 3D printing devices, each of which have their own unique thermal properties. To add to this, each material can behave differently at varying temperatures, most notably close to their respective melting points. Some of the most common materials used in these processes have melting points of 200ºC+. It is therefore critical to have representative thermal data under these conditions. Traditional methods for thermal conductivity characterization may be suitable for the lower temperature range while the material is in its solid form, however, many of these techniques do not translate well for higher temperatures. Even methods geared towards high temperature applications (i.e., laser flash) are not ideal for this class of material due to the setup and measurement process involved.

TLS sensor 2020

The Transient Line Source (TLS) sensor, ideal for measuring the thermal conductivity of powders, or viscous materials such as polymer melts.

For testing of polymer melts, C-Therm recommends the use of the Transient Line Source (TLS) needle probe. During this webinar, we will discuss the use of a variety of transient methods for thermal characterization and the applicability of each depending on intended use. We will also highlight the use of C-Therm’s new TLS-300 sensor, capable of testing up to 300ºC. The robust design makes it unequivocally the best solution for testing sticky/tacky melts, as well as more traditional uses such as viscous liquids and various geological materials in accordance with both ASTM D5930 and D5334.


This webinar aired on September 15, 2022 @ 2:00PM GMT-3.

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