(95j) Manufacturing and Characterization of Spherical Blend PBT-PC Particles for Additive Manufacturing

Authors: 
Dechet, M. A., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
Gómez Bonilla, J. S., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
Schmidt, J., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
Peukert, W., University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Polymer powder-based additive manufacturing technologies often yield excellent mechanical and functional part qualities. One of these technologies is selective laser sintering (SLS), a process employing micron-sized polymer particles, which are selectively fused by a laser [1]. While hardly any boundaries regarding part design exist, there are quite some restrictions concerning the variety of commercially available SLS materials. For the time being, the most widely used polymeric material for SLS is polyamide 12 (PA12) with a market share of roughly 95% [2]. Hardly any blend materials are available; mostly , the processing of multi-material systems via SLS is achieved by simply mixing different polymer powder materials [3].

In this contribution, a new approach to blend particles is introduced. Via co-grinding and subsequent rounding, manufacturing of spherical particles consisting of semi-crystalline polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and amorphous polycarbonate (PC) thermoplastic is possible. The polymers are jointly comminuted and mixed in a planetary ball mill and the product particles are rounded in a heated downer reactor [4,5]. The thereby achieved intermixed, but not transesterified, PBT-PC composite particles are characterized regarding size and morphology via electron microscopy. Intermixing of the polymers is investigated via staining techniques and Raman spectroscopy. Thermal properties of the blend particles are analyzed via DSC, also in regard to transesterification in SLS process-like conditions. Furthermore, flowability and size distribution of the blend particles are examined. This way, we show the high potential of our process route [4] for the production of novel polymer blend particle systems for SLS.

References:

[1] I. Gibson, D. Rosen, B. Stucker, Additive manufacturing technologies, 2. ed., Springer, New York, NY, 2015.

[2] T.T. Wohlers, Wohlers Report 2016, Wohlers Associates, Fort Collins, Col., 2016.

[3] D. Drummer, K. Wudy, F. Kühnlein, M. Drexler, Polymer Blends for Selective Laser Sintering: Material and Process Requirements, Phys. Procedia. 39 (2012) 509–517. doi:10.1016/j.phpro.2012.10.067.

[4] J. Schmidt, M. Sachs, C. Blümel, B. Winzer, F. Toni, K.-E. Wirth, W. Peukert, A novel process route for the production of spherical LBM polymer powders with small size and good flowability, Powder Technol. 261 (2014) 78–86. doi:10.1016/j.powtec.2014.04.003.

[5] J. Schmidt, M. Sachs, S. Fanselow, M. Zhao, S. Romeis, D. Drummer, K.E. Wirth, W. Peukert, Optimized polybutylene terephthalate powders for selective laser beam melting, Chem. Eng. Sci. 156 (2016) 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.ces.2016.09.009.