A High Temperature Polymer Selective Laser Sintering Testbed for Controls Research

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Fish, S.
Kubiak, S.
Wroe, W.
Booth, J.
Bryant, A.
Beaman, J.

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University of Texas at Austin


High Temperature Polymers under development over the last decade show great promise for Additive Manufacturing (AM) applications in aviation, medicine, and other fields based on their high strength and high temperature qualities. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) of these materials, derived generally from the Poly Ether Ketone Ketone class of polymers is still somewhat immature however, and certifiably repeatable SLS parts with certifiable mechanical properties remain elusive. One barrier to this is the limited number and high cost of SLS machines capable of operating at the high ~300-350C temperatures needed to build with low internal thermal stress and tight process controls. Another barrier is the lack the instrumentation in the few machines available, to develop critical feedback control and associated flexibility in the thermal management of the material from feedstock to cooled part/part-cake. This paper describes the development and initial testing of a new laboratory SLS machine with the flexibility required in deriving optimal process control for polymer SLS including these high temperature polymer powders. With such a system validated for SLS operation, we will embark on multiple control development approaches to improve part/material property performance.


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