Evaluation of a Feed-Forward Laser Control Approach for Improving Consistency in Selective Laser Sintering

Phillips, T.
Fish, S.
Beaman, J.
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University of Texas at Austin

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a popular industrial additive manufacturing technique for creating functional polymer components. One of the biggest limitations today with SLS is its poor mechanical consistency when compared with traditional manufacturing techniques, inhibiting the use of SLS among structurally critical components. Evaluation of the SLS process has revealed that the quality of components is strongly affected by the thermal history during the build process and poor control over this can lead to premature part failure. This paper will discuss a novel technique of improving in-situ thermal control by implementing a feed-forward laser controller that uses dynamic surrogate modelling to predict optimal laser power to achieve desired thermal characteristics. Thermal and destructive testing results will be presented showing that the described laser power controller is capable of decreasing the standard deviations of post sintering temperature by up to 57% and ultimate flexural strength by up to 45%.