Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Of Plastics & Photopolymers
Current experiments utilize a Short-Wave Infrared Super Continuum (SWIR-SC) laser with a wavelength range of 2.0-2.5µm to sinter various thermoplastic powders. Selective laser sintering is a 3D printing technique that uses a CO2 laser to melt a design into a layer of thermoplastic or metal powder. A new layer of powder is then rolled out and on top of the previous layer and parts are built up incrementally. We have verified C-H combinational band absorptions from 2.15-2.5µm in 11 different thermoplastics via FTIR spectroscopy. Furthermore, we have benchmarked rods created with the SWIR-SC laser against rods created using a CO2 laser, a diode laser, and a 75nm filtered SWIR-SC spectrum. These rods were found to be 1.5-5x stronger than CO2 created rods.
Future experiments will focus on integrating the SWIR-SC laser with commercial selective laser sintering machines to further benchmark strength of different structures built using this light source.