Purpose - To review the initial phase of research for realizing an SLS-based rapid manufacturing method for silicon carbide composites. The research was oriented toward actual commercial fabrication of fully functional parts. Design/methodology/approach - A screening method for materials in SLS was established using the operating parameters of the SLS machine, polymer analysis, heat transfer analysis and powder mechanics. The quality and potential application of the parts made during the research were assessed by rapid prototyping industry experts. Findings - Thermosetting materials can be used as binders in SLS. Free-standing metal infiltration is possible and yields near-net shape parts. Polymer matrix composites can also be produced readily. The part quality in terms of dimensional stability, detail and surface finish were commensurate with current commercially available rapid prototyping materials. Research limitations/implications - Although several binders were initially screened, only phenolic was explored as a binder material. The curing aspects were examined, but not the melt rheology. Glass and silicon carbide base materials were examined. Future work will include addition base, binder and infiltrant materials. Pursuing thermosets as neat resin systems on SLS is another future research element. Practical implications - The search for new SLS materials should not be limited to thermoplastic materials. Indirect SLS processing offers a low cost means of achieving fully functional parts in support of rapid manufacturing. Originality/value - This paper reports on what may be considered a platform technology for producing fully functional parts from SLS, a prominent rapid prototyping technique. It will be valuable to researchers and industrial practitioners of rapid prototyping technologies, particularly those interested in realizing commercially viable manufacturing.
Evans, R. S., Bourell, D. L., Beaman, J. J., & Campbell, M. I. (2005). Rapid manufacturing of silicon carbide composites. Rapid Prototyping Journal. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552540510573374