If you’ve been following 3D printing’s technological progression over the past several years, you’ll have noticed it has advanced from just making prototypes, to a technology that makes functional, end use parts. Question is, during this crucial time of technological advancement, who is 3D printing’s biggest supporter to validate these functional parts?
There’s a lot of evidence that 3D printing has the capability to disrupt many manufacturing processes with the introduction of direct part manufacturing. However, to sustain such growth there must be a validation process that truly exemplifies 3D printing’s ability to not only meet the quality standards currently found in current conventional methods of manufacturing, but to ensure that it can produce that quality on a continuous basis. – Jesse Garant, President, JG&A Metrology Center
Engineers at NASA have known for years that 3D printing parts would potentially save NASA and the space industry money by opening a new, affordable way to design parts for rockets and spacecrafts. However, before they could actually use a functional 3D printed part, strict validation processes were put in place in order to remove those uncertainties. NASA turned to industrial computed tomography (CT) scanning to help solidify tests done on rocket parts to engine combustion in a hot-fire environment.
What you’re seeing with industrial CT scanning is a non-destructive inspection method able to identify a part’s true internal characteristics, in full 3D, with the capacity to provide precise measurements. Its industrial CT scanning’s ability to qualify and validate those internal geometries and features that makes industrial CT scanning an asset for 3D printed parts.
The primary objective of using industrial CT scanning is to inspect and validate the internal structures, and help engineers make a qualified decision during the pre-production stages of a 3D printed part’s manufacturing process. One of the reasons why Industrial CT scanning is seeing such traction within the 3D printing industry is because of the ability to identify uncertainties quickly and accurately. Spotting errors quickly allows engineers to resolve their part’s issues faster by streamlining the parts inspection process, and similarly, frees up time that would otherwise be spent trying to find the problem instead.
Completing the entire quality control validation process with one CT dataset
Once a scan has been performed, five distinct types of analysis are available instantaneously, covering all the inspection needs of that part and giving you complete control over the validation process. The five types of analyses include:
Void analysis – inspecting for internal voids or inclusions within a part
Part to CAD comparison – inspecting the part by comparing it to the CAD model
Part to part comparison – inspecting two parts and comparing them to each other
Wall thickness analysis – inspecting consistencies in a parts wall structure
First article inspection – Development of a measurement plan from a GD&T part print to automatically calculate multiple dimensions simultaneously from a CT dataset
In addition you can also reverse engineer the part to develop a CAD file with both internal and external geometries.
Industrial CT scanning is setting a new standard for qualifying pre-production parts quickly and accurately while reducing inspection costs. The accuracy, efficiency, and reduced turnaround times provided by industrial CT scanning ensures that it can provide the insight needed to support 3D printing’s growth, recognizing both its utility as an inspection standard and the cost and time benefits it offers.