This paper aims to provide a detailed study on influence of the laser energy density on mechanical, surface and dimensional properties of polyamide 12 (PA12) parts produced by selective laser sintering (SLS), providing the microstructural and crystallization evolution of the samples produced at different energy densities.
Making use of a space filling design of experiments, a wide range of laser sintering parameters is covered. Surface morphology is assessed by means of profile measurements and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images. Mechanical testing, SEM, X-ray diffraction (XRD), differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) and infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) were used to assess the influence of energy density on structural and mechanical properties.
Results show a high dependency of the properties on the laser energy density and also a compromise existing between laser exposure parameters and desired properties of laser sintered parts. Surface roughness could be associated to overlap degree when using higher scan line spacing values and lower laser speeds improved surface roughness when high scan line spacing is used. Higher mechanical properties were found at higher energy density levels, but excessively high energy density decreased mechanical properties. A transition from brittle to ductile fracture with increasing energy density could be clearly observed by mechanical analysis and SEM. XRD and DSC measurements show a decrease on the crystal fraction with increasing energy densities, which corroborated the plastic behavior observed, and FTIR measurements revealed polymer degradation through chain scission might occur at too high energy densities.
Valuable guidelines are given regarding energy density optimization for SLS of PA12 considering not only quality criteria but also microstructure characteristics. Surface properties are studied based on the concept of degree of overlap between laser scanning lines. For the first time, crystallization behavior of SLS PA12 parts produced at different energy levels was studied by means of XRD measurements. Polymer degradation of SLS PA12 parts was evaluated with FTIR, which is a non-destructive and easy test to be conducted.
The authors would like to thank FINEP for the financial support.
Czelusniak, T. and Amorim, F.L. (2021), "Influence of energy density on polyamide 12 processed by SLS: from physical and mechanical properties to microstructural and crystallization evolution", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 1189-1205. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-02-2020-0027
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