Small Size Fluidic Devices by Freeform Manufacturing
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The objective of this study was to innovatively use Freeform Manufacturing, specifically Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) to fabricate rapid prototypes of small size fluidic devices. The polymer used by the SLS application is very porous and presents a rough final surface. Material analyses were performed using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), optical microscopy and Rockwell P hardness tests to develop methods for physical property enhancements. The study showed the feasibility of manufacturing a functional miniature size, e.g. sub-centimeter size, in-line static mixer derived from available macro-scale models using SLS and an additional coating process. It was determined that some of the variable parameters of the SLS process affected the mechanical and physical properties of sintered specimens. Related issues can be enhanced by sintering at relatively high laser power settings and post-processing the prototype with a polymer based coating.