Steady-state traveling waves in structures have been previously investigated for a variety of purposes including propulsion of objects and agitation of a surrounding medium. In the field of additive manufacturing, powder bed fusion (PBF) is a commonly used process that uses heat to fuse regions of metallic or polymer powders within a loose bed. PBF processes require post-process removal of loose powder, which can be difficult when blind holes or complex internal geometry are present in the fabricated part. Here, a preliminary investigation of a simple part is conducted examining the use of traveling waves for post-process de-powdering of additively manufactured specimens.
The generation of steady-state traveling waves in a structure is accomplished through excitation at a frequency between two adjacent resonant frequencies of the structure, resulting in two-mode excitation. This excitation can be generated by bonded piezoceramic elements actuated by a sinusoidal voltage signal. The response of the structure is affected by the parameters of the excitation, such as the particular frequency of the voltage signal, the placement of the piezoceramic actuators, and the phase difference in the signals applied to different actuators. Careful selection of these parameters allows adjustment of the quality, wavelength, and wave speed of the resulting traveling waves.
In this work, open-top rectangular box specimens composed of sintered nylon powder and coated with fine sand are used to represent freshly fabricated parts yet-to-be cleaned of un-sintered powder. Steady-state traveling waves are excited in the specimens while variations in the frequency content and phase differences between actuation points of the excitation are used to affect the characteristics of the dynamic response. The effectiveness of several response types for the purpose of moving un-sintered nylon powder within the specimens is investigated.