Everything in life has a certain amount of risk associated with it. For the consumer of a product or process the risk is also tied to cost. The measurement results that any accredited metrology laboratory provides you will ultimately be used as either evidence that your product or process is within bounds, or outside of bounds. If it’s within the boundaries of acceptability then the cost associated here is the cost of the third party inspection. However if the inspection shows the product or process is out, then the costs become a bit more complicated, as you will need to review the product and process and possibly adjust it one way or another.
We have all seen prints with many datum reference frames on them. The fact that there are multiple sets of datum’s is not an issue and is put in place for functional design reasons. There can be so many that they look like an alphabet soup. But what about raw castings? Generally the functional part datum reference frame(s) have not yet been cut into the parts yet. This where casting datums come into play. They are typically designated as X-Y-Z or Z-Y-X.
A common question that we are asked is: what is the resolution of a CT scan for determining gaps or voids or true surface locations? We are also asked: How can you measure a gap between two parts that may be closer than 1 voxel in size? The answer lies in sub-voxel surface determination and in the number of voxels that are involved and continuous surfaces as detailed below.
Modern Additive Manufacturing (AM) methods often employ subtractive machining to achieve precise dimensional and surface finish characteristics. This is due to current AM limitations in build precision and surface quality. These hybrid AM / subtractive components also demand a hybrid approach to measurement. Internal features on AM parts are difficult or impossible to non-destructively measure using solely traditional metrology methods and so industrial computed tomography (CT) must also be employed. CT scanning not only allows for precise measurements using metrology CT, but allows for detection of internal defects that are not otherwise able to be seen. However, well machined portions are best served through other measurement methods due to precision requirements and data characteristics. This can necessitate a hybrid measurement approach. However, traditional CT scanning and service providers are not trained as metrologists and do not follow particular standards related to metrology – especially ISO17025. Also complicating measurement is the design and datum reference frames used for additive parts that typically follow a traditional machined component print layout. A layout method following best practices from the casting industry is suggested here. This article explores the methods (GD&T), issues, limitations and current solutions associated with good metrology practices for AM and hybrid AM components.
COVID 19 has literally shut down a majority of the world’s production. As we have talked with our customers over this time, we have found that many have reduced their workforce or have implemented rolling furloughs. The problem is that once you let that skilled person go, they may actually find other work before you can hire them back. So, all of the training that was invested in them is gone. This seems especially true of Quality staff. During each normal business cycle and when things get tight, the quality staff is the first to be reduced. A new staff is then later brought on once the cycle has completed with the requisite experience or they are slowly trained up to a proficient level. This is logically the case as production requirements are lower during these cycles and removing production personnel would immediately and directly hamper the ability to generate revenue.
If we lived in a perfect world the parts you manufacture and the gages used to check them would both be exactly to nominal specifications. At that point a gage would be obsolete and so too would be the metrologist, but we all know that this world is far from perfect and that the best we can ever do in the study of measurements is to provide our best estimate of where the actual value lies along with a provision of uncertainty of measurement that can be traced all the way back to the international system of units.
3D Engineering Solutions has expertise in inspection and reverse engineering for many different applications. We combine the best available equipment and a well trained staff to deliver correct results in a rapid manner.
For PCB’s, we use the Nikon X-Tek 160kV Industrial CT Scanner which is designed to meet every need related to the inspection of PCB’s. It provides up to 160kV and 20W power, a 1µm X-ray focal spot size, and a magnification range of 2x-600x. The detector can also tilt to a max angle of 75° which provides extra flexibility in examining multi-layer boards.
First Article Inspections (FAI) are used to ensure that parts off of new or modified tooling or processes conform to the part design requirements. This even includes changing the location of manufacture! Yes – this can make a difference sometimes (usually due to different equipment, the same equipment setup slightly differently, environmental conditions, different manufacturing standards, etc). This includes any time the Form, Fit, or Function could be impacted.
Fully defining large assemblies can be a daunting task. It is a task that cannot be ignored, as a well-defined assembly drawing is necessary to properly convey critical details. Manually labeling everything in an assembly drawing can take days and it is very easy for not all the detail to be captured. A solution to this is to add a Bill of Materials or BOM to the drawing. Modern CAD software (Like SolidWorks – shown in the images below) all have automated means to generate BOMs. This helps automate the process, reduce chances for error and allows for automatic updates as assemblies change.
Radiographic testing is a widely accepted method for finding voids and defects in materials. Makers of castings and solder connections on printed circuit boards have used radiographic testing to detect voids in 2D images and Computed Tomography (CT) in 3D images with excellent results that are well documented. As CT scanning continues to evolve and emerge as the inspection method of choice new challenges arise. Many times customers are unaware of the difference and apply old specifications on their drawings that may no longer apply. Or they do not know the full capabilities of the newer technologies or have not yet defined the specifications for their application.