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Using High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography to Inspect Additive Manufactured Parts

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  • location_onMcCormick Place
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The aim of additive manufacturing (AM) is to produce lighter stronger parts using less material. A good AM design instructs a 3D printer to put material only where it is needed. The results of this are complex, organic-looking parts with fine internal structure providing strength where strength is needed and saving weight and expensive material elsewhere, sometimes allowing stronger, more expensive material to be used for the same price as using cheaper material in conventionally (subtractively) manufactured parts. Components fulfill their function only if they can be guaranteed to be free of even small defects. Therefore, high-resolution 3D X-ray imaging is needed to find even small voids in complex additive-layer manufactured parts, because small defects in small structures can lead to costly failure. In this talk we explain how X-ray computed tomography (CT) can provide this, as well as a comprehensive dimensional check.  A high energy microfocus source is used, magnifying the image onto a sensitive large pixel detector. In this way, during the rotation of the sample, projection images maintain high resolution for the whole sample, and scan times are kept short. Modern reconstruction computers build full 3D density maps of the components from the projection images in an even shorter time, often allowing 100% inspection.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and appreciate the inspection challenges additive manufacturing poses
  • Learn about the capabilities of X-ray CT to measure internal features and find defects
  • Learn about the capabilities of X-ray CT to measure deviations from the intended design