Particle Shape and Flow behaviour in Laser Sintering: from modelling to experimental validation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


This project proposes to investigate the way the polymeric powders of different shapes and sizes flow, interact and sinter in the Laser Sintering process, through modelling and experimental validation. Laser sintering is part of the additive manufacturing technology, known for its benefits in industries where custom made products, lightweight and complex designs are required. In laser sintering a polymer powder bed is heated to just below its melt temperature. A laser is then focused onto the bed which scans a raster pattern of a single layer of the final part. The bed lowers slightly and a new layer of powder is applied. The process is then repeated until the component is made and the additive layer process is complete.

The spreading and compaction of the powder is an important part of the LS process, a non-uniform layer of powder leads to high porosity and weaker bonding between layers and therefore a structure with poor mechanical performance. Similarly, the size and shape of particles can change the sintering process. Larger contact areas between particles lead to a good sintering profile and ultimately to a high density part and good mechanical properties. Surface area of particles, polymer viscosity and surface tension are characteristics which will be considered when modelling the flow and sintering process.


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Description We have performed large-scale simulation of particle flows in additive manufacturing processes and identified the particle shape effects in the process. The simulations also yield new insights into the rheology of non-spherical particles in general.
Exploitation Route The findings can be utilised by additive manufacturing practitioners and process designers to better control and design relevant processes. There is a potential to expand the current material range available to addictive manufacturing according to our findings.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology