This study aims to investigate the effect of the material thickness and build orientation on the mass transfer of low molecular weight substances through polyamide 12 (PA12) structures produced by laser sintering (LS).
Disc-shaped PA12 sheets having a nominal thickness ranging from 700 to 2,000 µm were built in horizontal, vertical and diagonal orientations and their permeation properties to oxygen and water vapor were measured. The structural properties of the sheets were examined by X-ray micro-computed tomography, differential scanning calorimetry and polarized light microscopy.
All the LS sheets that were investigated had water vapor and oxygen permeation coefficients that are in the range of those of PA12 produced by traditional manufacturing technologies. Despite significant differences in the porosity characteristics, the permeation properties of sheets built in different orientations were similar. The pores seem to have no measurable effect on the mass transfer rates in the sheets, and the transport processes seem to predominantly follow the rules of a regular solution-diffusion mechanism. The results showed a non-significant trend toward thickness-dependent permeation coefficients, which agrees with the observed differences in the crystal structures of the sheets.
The results are an important basis for the qualification of LS technology for direct manufacturing in applications requiring special barrier performance.
This study provides new information on mechanisms of mass transport through LS PA12 and the effect of the material thickness and build orientation. Furthermore, the results enhance understanding of the structural properties of thin polymeric sheets produced by LS.
The authors wish to thank Monika Gessler of EOS, Electro Optical Systems GmbH (Krailling, Germany) for the fabrication of the LS sheets and the helpful discussions during the investigations.
Liebrich, A., Langowski, H.-C., Schreiber, R. and Pinzer, B.R. (2021), "Effect of thickness and build orientation on the water vapor and oxygen permeation properties of laser-sintered polyamide 12 sheets", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 1030-1040. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-05-2020-0101
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