The thermal transport properties of the powder layer play a crucial role in the process of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF). This paper introduces an in-situ measurement method utilizing active lock-in infrared thermography (LIT) to determine the thermal diffusivity and thickness of the powder layer. The proposed method exhibits great potential for accurate powder property and thickness measurements and real-time process monitoring. In this lock-in thermographic technique, the LPBF laser beam is directed through an optical diffuser and modulated into a square thermal wave. This thermal wave serves as an active heat source to heat the surface of the powder bed. The surface temperature response is captured using a long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera. A one-dimensional thermal model is employed to provide insights into heat transfer in the frequency domain. The frequency-dependent phase response of temperature is influenced by the effective thermal diffusivity and thickness of the powder layer. This model is validated experimentally first and then utilized to measure the thermal diffusivity of different powder layers created using various particle sizes and wiper spreading speeds. Larger particle size and slower wiper spreading speed are shown to produce higher thermal diffusivity. Finally, the paper shows how this technique can be used to measure the powder layer thickness over printed geometries. This capability enables the detection of deviations in the fused part surface or errors in the wiper through analysis of resulting variations in the powder. These findings highlight the potential of the lock-in thermographic technique for rapid in-situ inspection of the new powder layer in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) processes.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Publication Status

Open Access


Missouri University of Science and Technology, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Laser powder bed fusion; Lock in thermography; Powder layer thickness; Thermal diffusivity; Thermal wave

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2023 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

25 Jul 2023