Laser Sintering of Thermoset Polyimide Composites published by Tim Gornet et. al (2019)
Sintering Thermoset Composites at High Temperatures for Aerospace Applications
Tim Gornet (Manager of AMIST Core Facility), Kate Schneidau (UofL Graduate Student), Kathy C. Chuang (NASA Glenn Research Center) and Hilmar Koerner (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) recently published a paper that has been highlighted in 3DPrint.com (https://3dprint.com/258500/3d-printing-thermoset-composites-at-high-temperatures-aerospace-applications/?fbclid=IwAR3Crg8oDDYkx55piyfaBHvW_Rd4LY1z7M1Ti2tr5j4egqxqaaF3mVSBFEI).
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that builds 3D models layer by layer using a laser to selectively melt cross sections in powdered polymeric materials, following sequential slices of the CAD model. SLS generally uses thermoplastic polymeric powders, such as polyamides (i.e. Nylon), and the resultant 3D objects are often weaker in their strength compared to traditionally processed materials, due to the lack of polymer inter-chain connection in the z-direction. Our previous effort showed the challenges of printing a melt-processable RTM370 imide resin powder terminated with reactive 4-phenylethynylphthalic anhydride by LS, due to its inherently low viscosity of these oligomers. This paper presented the first successful 3D printing of high temperature carbon fiber filled thermoset polyimide composites, followed by post cure cycles to promote additional crosslinking for achieving higher temperature (Tg = 370 °C) capability. The processes to build tensile specimens and a component by LS, and the characterization of RTM370 imide resin by DSC and rheology as well as evaluation of the LS printed polyimide composite specimens by SEM and mechanical tests will be discussed.