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A Combined Experimental-Numerical Method to Evaluate Powder Thermal Properties in Laser Powder Bed Fusion



Bo Cheng, Brandon Lane, Justin G. Whiting, Kevin Chou


Powder-bed metal additive manufacturing (AM) utilizes a high-energy heat source scanning at the surface of a powder layer in a pre-defined area to be melted and solidified to fabricate parts layer by layer. It is known that powder-bed metal AM is primarily a thermal process and further, heat conduction is the dominant heat transfer mode in the process. Hence, understanding the powder-bed thermal conductivity is crucial to process temperature predictions, because powder thermal conductivity could be substantially different from its solid counterpart. On the other hand, measuring the powder thermal conductivity is a challenging task. The objective of this study is to investigate the powder thermal conductivity using a method that combines a thermal diffusivity measurement technique and a numerical heat transfer model. In the experimental aspect, disk-shaped samples, with powder inside, made by a laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) system, are measured using a laser flash system to obtain the thermal diffusivity and the normalized temperature history during testing. In parallel, a finite element model is developed to simulate the transient heat transfer of the laser flash process. The numerical model was first validated using reference material testing. Then, the model is extended to incorporate powder enclosed in an LPBF sample with thermal properties to be determined using an inverse method to approximate the simulation results to the thermal data from the experiments. In order to include the powder particles' contribution in the measurement, an improved model geometry, which improves the contact condition between powder particles and the sample solid shell, has been tested. A multi-point optimization inverse heat transfer method is used to calculate the powder thermal conductivity. From this study, the thermal conductivity of a nickel alloy 625 powder in powder-bed conditions is estimated to be 1.01 W/m·K at 500 oC.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the MSEC2108
Conference Dates
June 18-22, 2018
Conference Location
College Station, TX, US
Conference Title
ASME 2018 13th International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference


Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), finite element (FE) model, laser flash, powder-bed, thermal conductivity, diffusivity


Cheng, B. , Lane, B. , Whiting, J. and Chou, K. (2018), A Combined Experimental-Numerical Method to Evaluate Powder Thermal Properties in Laser Powder Bed Fusion, Proceedings of the MSEC2108, College Station, TX, US, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created June 21, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021