Generating multimaterial parts, reaching higher efficiency in powder consumption, and decoupling of powder application behavior from powder properties such as powder flowability are key aspects for using electrophotographic powder application (EPA) in laser-based powder bed fusion of polymers (PBF-LB/P). Moreover, EPA allows the layer thickness to be reduced from around 100–150 μm, depending on respective particle size distribution, in the case of conventional doctor blade or roller-based powder application methods to the diameter of the applied polymer particles (typically between 50 and 130 μm). This can have positive effects on the interlayer connection and, therefore, the mechanical properties of the additively manufactured part because less powder volume has to be fused with the already generated underlying part. Moreover, due to the above-mentioned independence of EPA from powder flowability, the addition of flow aids, such as nano silica, can be reduced to a minimum or even avoided completely. This is the first comprehensive study on resulting properties of parts generated by PBF-LB/P using EPA taking into account both the reduction in layer thickness and reduced addition of flow aids. In addition to improving mechanical properties of generated parts, the independence of powder flowability, in particular, offers the possibility of qualifying currently unsuitable materials for PBF-LB/P. For this purpose, besides widely employed polyamide 12 (PA12), a polypropylene (PP) powder is used that is very difficult to process in conventional PBF-LB/P and can only be applied there with the help of flow aids.
Expanding the capabilities of laser-based powder bed fusion of polymers through the use of electrophotographic powder application
Sebastian-Paul Kopp, Vadim Medvedev, Thomas Frick, Stephan Roth; Expanding the capabilities of laser-based powder bed fusion of polymers through the use of electrophotographic powder application. J. Laser Appl. 1 November 2022; 34 (4): 042032. https://doi.org/10.2351/7.0000774
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