Evaluation of selective laser sintering processes by optical coherence tomography

Guangying Guan, Matthias Hirsch, Zeng Hai Lu, David T.D. Childs, Stephen J. Matcher, Ruth Goodridge, Kristian M. Groom, Adam T. Clare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Selective laser sintering (SLS) enables the fast, flexible and cost-efficient production of parts directly from 3D CAD data. Unlike more established machine tools, there is a marked lack of process monitoring and feedback control of key process variables. In-situ analysis techniques permit the emergence of repair techniques, in-process optimization of production parameters, and will also serve to save time and material. In this study, optical coherence tomography (OCT) is used for the first time to evaluate components produced by SLS. Using a Polyamide-PA2200, surface defects are analyzed and the limiting factors associated with the measurement technique are quantified. OCT is shown to be a useful technique for evaluating surface irregularities alongside sub-surface defects that have resulted from poor sintering or non-homogeneous powder spreading. We demonstrate detection and quantification of surface defects such as cracks, pores and voids on a ~. 30. μm scale. Furthermore, we show that this technique can resolve 'built-in' fine features within a 200 to 400. μm depth below the surface, covering typical layer thicknesses used by this process. This capability paves the way for real-time monitoring of the SLS process for assurance, or even dynamic correction of defects during the build.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-846
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials and Design
Early online date21 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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