SKZ Tests the Effects of Post-Treatment on Additively Manufactured Components

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SLS-manufactured components are often post-processed in order to modify the look and feel. The effects of this post-treatment on component properties such as strength and toughness were investigated at the SKZ.

Laser sintering (SLS) is increasingly being used for functional (small) series parts made of plastic. The resulting components often feel somewhat "powdery", and the appearance is also not ideal for every application. For this reason, post-treatment of the components by shot blasting, vibratory grinding, chemical smoothing, but also infiltration and coloring is widespread.

In a research project, the SKZ has looked at the internal values of the externally optimized components. This is because an influence of this post-treatment on the mechanical behavior cannot be ruled out. "We investigated the influence on tensile strength, toughness and notch sensitivity in detail, depending on the installation direction and wall thickness," says Senior Engineer Britta Gerets, describing the project. In the project, the influences were characterized for components made of polyamide 12 and then validated with polyamide 11 and glass-filled polyamide 12.

The institute was able to rule out any fundamental impairment of the mechanical short-time properties in the project. In the case of very thin-walled components, it was even possible to observe an improvement in tensile strength as a result of the surface smoothing. The SKZ is looking forward to follow-up inquiries from industry. "Due to the demand, we have added the testing services for SLS components directly to our service portfolio," explains Matthias Ruff, Sales Manager Education and Research.

Laser sintering, or SLS for short, is an additive manufacturing process, i.e. 3D printing. The process, in which laser irradiation in a powder bed fuses grain by grain to create a component layer by layer, has now arrived in industry.

The SKZ is a climate protection company and a member of the Zuse Community - an association of independent, industry-related research institutions that pursue the goal of improving the performance and competitiveness of industry, especially SMEs, through innovation and networking.

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