Discrete element simulation and experimental study of powder spreading process in additive manufacturing
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. Open Access funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Under a Creative Commons license
Powders used in additive manufacturing (AM) are spread into a compact layer of particles for sintering and this process is repeated layer by layer to form the final products. Spreading of rod-shaped particles in realistic AM settings is simulated using the discrete element method (DEM) to investigate the effects of particle shape and operating conditions on the bed quality, characterised by its surface roughness and solid volume fraction. It is discovered that larger particle aspect ratios, Ar, or higher spreader translational velocities result in a lower bed quality, i.e. a larger surface roughness and a smaller volume fraction. The surface roughness increases monotonically with Ar. However, the volume fraction exhibits a maximum at Ar = 1.5 for randomly packed powder beds that are formed by the roller type spreaders moving at low translational velocities. It is also found that a roller outperforms a blade spreader in terms of the quality of the prepared bed at the same operating conditions. The micro-structural analysis of the beds also shows particle alignment in response to the induced flow, which is qualitatively confirmed by a set of purposely-designed experiments. In addition, a shape segregation is documented for powders with mixed aspect ratios (Ar) such that particles with larger Ar tend to accumulate on the upper layers of the bed.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the present work under EP/L017318/1 and EP/L017539/1. We also acknowledge the use of the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service (Projects D111, E504) for conducting the simulations (http://www.archer.ac.uk).
This is the author accepted manuscript, published online 9th November 2016. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form by the publisher via the DOI in this record.