Loose powder detection and surface characterization in selective laser sintering via optical coherence tomography

Guangying Guan, Matthias Hirsch, Wahyudin P. Syam, Richard K. Leach, Zhihong Huang, Adam T. Clare (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    Defects produced during selective laser sintering (SLS) are difficult to non-destructively detect after build completion without the use of X-ray-based methods. Overcoming this issue by assessing integrity on a layer-by-layer basis has become an area of significant interest for users of SLS apparatus. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is used in this study to detect surface texture and sub-surface powder, which is un-melted/insufficiently sintered, is known to be a common cause of poor part integrity and would prevent the use of SLS where applications dictate assurance of defect-free parts. To demonstrate the capability of the instrument and associated data-processing algorithms, samples were built with graduated porosities which were embedded in fully dense regions in order to simulate defective regions. Simulated in situ measurements were then correlated with the process parameters used to generate variable density regions. Using this method, it is possible to detect loose powder and differentiate between densities of ±5% at a sub-surface depth of approximately 300 μm. In order to demonstrate the value of OCT as a surface-profiling technique, surface texture datasets are compared with focus variation microscopy. Comparable results are achieved after a spatial bandwidth- matching procedure.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20160201
    Number of pages14
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
    Issue number2191
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2016


    • optical coherence tomography
    • selective laser sintering
    • additive manufacturing
    • in situ monitoring
    • part integrity


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