Polymer Laser Sintering (LS) is a well-known Additive Manufacturing process, capable of producing highly complex geometries with little or no cost penalty. However, the restricted range of materials currently available for this process has limited its applications. Whilst it is common to modify the properties of standard LS polymers with the inclusion of fillers e.g. nanoclays, achieving effective dispersions can be difficult. The work presented here investigates the use of plasma treatment as a method of enhancing dispersion with an expectation of improving consistency and surface quality of laser sintered nanocomposite parts. To enable the preparation of polyamide 12 nanocomposite powder for applications in LS, plasma surface modification using Low Pressure Air Plasma Treatment was carried out on two nanoclays: Cloisite 30B (C30B) and Nanomer I.34TCN (I.34TCN). Plasma treatment strongly reduced the aggregation of the nanoclay (C30B and I.34TCN) particles, and powders displayed higher decomposition temperatures than those without plasma treatment. LS parts from neat polyamide 12, untreated I.34TCN and plasma treated I.34TCN composites were successfully produced with different complex shapes. The presence of well dispersed plasma treated nanoclays was observed and found to be essential for an improved surface quality of LS fabricated which was achieved only for plasma treated I.34TCN. Likewise, some mechanical properties could be improved above that of PA12 by incorporation of treated I.34TCN. For example, the elastic modulus of plasma treated composites was higher than that of polyamide 12 and the untreated composite. In the case of the ultimate strain, the plasma treated composite performed better than untreated and results had a reduced variation between samples. This illustrates the feasibility of the use of plasma treatments on nanoclays to improve the properties of LS parts, even though further studies will be required to exploit the full potential.
Almansoori, A., Abrams, K. J., Ghali Al-Rubaye, A. D., Majewski, C., & Rodenburg, C. (2019). Novel plasma treatment for preparation of laser sintered nanocomposite parts. Additive Manufacturing, 25, 297–306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addma.2018.11.016