Thermal Conductivity Characterization of Powders for Optimization in 3D Printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), are processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create the object.  These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from digital model, 3D model or other electronic data source such as an Additive Manufacturing File (AMF) file. Typically, a high-powered laser is applied as a heat source to fuse polymer (or other material) powder into a mass that has a desired 3-dimensional shape.  The laser selectively scans and fuses powder material on the surface of the powder bed based on the previously generated AMF (or CAD) file. After one layer is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by one layer thickness, creating a new layer that is scanned. The process is repeated until the part is completed.  It is essential to understand the effective thermal conductivity (and broader related thermal properties such as effusivity) of the proposed powder stock material in properly understanding the laser sintering process.  The material thermal conductivity is fundamental to assessing the performance during heating and cooling during sintering.  In properly characterizing the thermal conductivity of the powder, a more effective and accurate process control may be maintained.    

There are limited experimental results for thermal conductivity of typical candidate polymer, ceramic and metal powders.  Learn more about application of C-Therm TCi’s Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS) method in characterizing the thermal conductivity and effusivity of such powders for optimized 3D printing process development.


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