Sustainability and thermal aspects of polymer based laser sintering
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Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes which include Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) have experienced tremendous growth and development since their introduction over 20 years ago. It becomes highly important at this stage to evaluate the sustainability of the process and refine it to reduce energy and material consumption. In this study, a sustainability analysis was performed on the SLS process with Nylon-12 using the Environmental and Resource Management Data (ERMD) known as Eco-Indicators. The energy perspective alone was considered and a Total Energy Indicator (TEI) value was calculated using various parameters to quantify process sustainability: process productivity, energy consumption rate, etc. Precise thermal control of selective laser sintering (SLS) is desirable for improving geometric accuracy, mechanical properties, and surface finish of parts produced. An experimental setup to monitor the temperature distribution was designed using Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTD) as a part of this study. Discrepancies in temperature profiles were investigated and recommendations were made to improve thermal characteristics of the SLS process.