Industrial CT for testing additively manufactured components

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Challenges with additively manufactured components

Addi­ti­ve manu­fac­tu­ring is still a rela­tively new manu­fac­tu­ring method that can be used to deve­lop very com­plex com­po­nent shapes with intri­ca­te inter­nal struc­tures that can be used in a varie­ty of ways. 

Mate­ri­als are appli­ed suc­ces­si­ve­ly — the pro­duct deve­lo­p­ment pro­cess the­r­e­fo­re requi­res careful­ly coor­di­na­ted parameters.

In order to shor­ten the deve­lo­p­ment pha­se, manu­fac­tu­ring defects should be detec­ted at an ear­ly stage. Non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing of addi­tively manu­fac­tu­red com­pon­ents using CT helps here.

Typical faults on metal components include 

The following problems frequently occur with 3D plastic printing: 

CT makes it pos­si­ble to cap­tu­re com­plex addi­tively manu­fac­tu­red com­pon­ents in their enti­re­ty: even hid­den and dif­fi­cult-to-access sur­faces can be inspec­ted. In addi­ti­on, the basis for a target/actual com­pa­ri­son can be created. 
Stütztstrukturreste im CT-Bild - Prüfung additiv gefertigter Bauteile

CT image shows sup­port struc­tu­re remnants

Delamination im CT-Bild - Prüfung additiv gefertigter Bauteile

CT image shows delamination

Practical example: Inspection of an aluminum wheel carrier with a complex structure 

The challenge

Due to the com­plex manu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess of addi­ti­ve manu­fac­tu­ring pro­ducts, such as wheel car­ri­ers, the indi­vi­du­al pro­duc­tion stages must be pre­cis­e­ly coor­di­na­ted. Fast feed­back on the qua­li­ty of the wheel car­ri­er right at the start of the pro­cess is the­r­e­fo­re extre­me­ly important due to its com­plex bio­nic structure.

Possible consequences

If manu­fac­tu­ring faults are not detec­ted or only insuf­fi­ci­ent­ly detec­ted, this can lead to high reject rates. An unre­lia­ble ana­ly­sis can have serious con­se­quen­ces, espe­ci­al­ly in the case of safe­ty-rele­vant chas­sis com­pon­ents: A fail­ure of the wheel car­ri­er increa­ses the risk of a serious accident.

Advantages of the CT test

CT inspec­tion shor­tens the deve­lo­p­ment cycles in addi­ti­ve manu­fac­tu­ring and addres­ses the risks iden­ti­fied by the FMEA. In addi­ti­on, non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing redu­ces the num­ber of expen­si­ve pro­to­ty­pes requi­red for a varie­ty of features.

Prüfung additiv gefertigter Bauteile - Aluminium Radträger

Alu­mi­num wheel carrier

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