Current Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies are typically limited by the minimum feature sizes of the parts they can produce. This issue is addressed by the microscale selective laser sintering system (µ-SLS), which is capable of building parts with single micrometer resolutions. Despite the resolution of the system, the minimum feature sizes producible using the µ-SLS tool are limited by unwanted heat dissipation through the particle bed during the sintering process. To address this unwanted heat flow, a particle scale thermal model is needed to characterize the thermal conductivity of the nanoparticle bed during sintering and facilitate the prediction of heat affected zones (HAZ). This would allow for the optimization of process parameters and a reduction in error for the final part. This paper presents a method for the determination of the effective thermal conductivity of copper nanoparticle beds in a µ-SLS system using finite element simulations performed in ANSYS. A Phase Field Model (PFM) is used to track the geometric evolution of the particle groups within the particle bed during sintering. CAD models are extracted from the PFM output data at various timesteps, and steady state thermal simulations are performed on each particle group. The full simulation developed in this work is scalable to particle groups with variable sizes and geometric arrangements. The particle thermal model results from this work are used to calculate the thermal conductivity of the copper nanoparticles as a function of the density of the particle group.

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