Characterizing the Particle Size and Shape of Polymer Powders for Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a term used to describe advanced production methods whereby materials are selectively connected layer by layer to produce a part based on a 3D model. It is ideal for rapid prototyping and can be used to produce much more complex parts when compared to traditional subtractive methods, while typically producing less waste. This study looks at polymer powders used in Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) processes such as Laser Sintering (LS), which is illustrated in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Diagram showing a typical Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) process. 

With increasing interest in using these processes for end-use manufacture, there is a need to both expand the range of materials available, and to better understand the ways in which materials behave within the processes themselves. This Application Note looks at how particle size and shape distributions measured on the Morphologi 4 provide insight into the density and flow data obtained from standard powder tests for three different polymers used in PBF additive manufacturing.

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