Different features of polymer powders influence the process of laser sintering (LS) and the properties of LS-parts to a great extent. This study investigates important aspects of the “powder/process/part”-property relationships by comparing two polyamide 12 (PA12) powders commercially available for LS, with pronounced powder characteristic differences (Duraform®
PA and Orgasol®
Invent Smooth). Due to the fact that the primary influence factor on polymer behaviour, the chemical structure of the polymer chain, is identical in this case, the impacts resulting from powder distribution, particle shape, thermal behaviour, and crystalline and molecular structure, can be studied in detail. It was shown that although both systems are PA12, completely different processing conditions must be applied to accomplish high-resolution parts. The reason for this was discovered by the different thermal behaviour based on the powder production and the resulting crystalline structure. Moreover, the parts built from Orgasol®
Invent Smooth unveil mechanical properties with pronounced anisotropy, caused from the high melt viscosity and termination of polymer chains. Further differences are seen in relation to the powder characteristics and other significant correlations could be revealed. For example, the study demonstrated how the particle morphology and shape impact the surface roughness of the parts.
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