Knowledge Center

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING FOR PRODUCTION

Validating Quality

Ensuring quality in 3D printed parts has been a hurdle to the technology’s adoption for production. There are two main challenges to be overcome: inspecting and validating final parts, and controlling the process itself. Many industrial 3D printers, particularly metals systems, are now equipped with in-process monitoring to track the machine’s performance throughout the build. Some systems even capture high-resolution photos of each layer so that every area of the part is fully traceable. Data from each build can be used to better understand the 3D printer and improve subsequent prints. The future of process improvement could be “fleet learning” in which a whole collection of printers can be tracked in order to improve reliability for all. Learn more in the video below about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve one manufacturer’s 3D printers.

Even with in-process monitoring, most 3D printed parts will still require some amount of final part inspection. AM’s ability to build complex geometries with internal features such as cooling channels, hollow chambers and lattice infills makes it difficult to fully inspect 3D printed parts with conventional gages and CMMs. For mission-critical aerospace and similar parts, nondestructive testing methods such as X-ray and CT scans are needed. When used in conjunction with analysis software, these scans make it possible to confirm not only the geometric and dimensional aspects of a part, but also to check for inclusions, porosity and other internal defects.

Verifying Structural Integrity of Metal 3D-Printed Parts

This article describes some of the capabilities and uses for nondestructive X-ray computed tomography.

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WATCH 

AI-Driven Software Aims to Self-Correct 3D Printing

The software platform Blacksmith from Markforged shares feedback from its cloud-connected fleet of printers to identify and correct distortions in a 3D-printed part. In this video, learn how Blacksmith can create a loop between AI, design tools and 3D scan data to hasten the ability of the company’s entire installed base of printers to self-correct against variations throughout the printing process.

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Postprocessing

Most 3D printed parts will require postprocessing following the print and it is important to account for any anticipated postprocessing in the design stage.

Equipment and Safety

Facilities using metal additive manufacturing, especially those dealing with powdered metals, require a range of support equipment and safety measures.

Organizational Issues

Additive manufacturing is a disruptive technology; incorporating 3D printing into an existing business requires the buy-in and support of the C-suite.