What is additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is the process of taking a powder generally of a metal, for example for aerospace, and using lasers to center the powder together and build a part up layer by layer.
How is the additive process changing the aerospace part manufacturing?
You have a wide variety of features or shapes you can create that you could never do before. Very complicated, conformal shapes or shapes that are just not easy to produce by normal, traditional manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing removes the constraints around the manufacturing process or the design process for making parts. In the past, for aerospace parts for example, you would have to combine many different manufacturing processes to get a shape or part that you wanted. You might have to braze them, have to do welding, you may have to do some traditional machining.
Now you can create them all to your nominal CAD model design in a layer by layer fashion, in ways that you would never be able to machine in the past. The advantage of being able to create these very complicated shapes without using a lot of these other processes in the manufacturing of the part, there are a couple of things it helps with. One, there’s a time factor. In the end it is quicker and less overall processing. You can also say it’s less expensive because of that. Another large savings is weight. You don’t have to have extra material in places where you don’t need it because you can selectively remove material with greater ability.
Why is CT Scanning important for additive manufactured parts inspection?
Industrial CT scanning is critical for additive manufactured parts. As I mentioned before, a lot of these parts have very complicated internal structures and the only way to visualize or measure or to measure these parts is with industrial CT scanning. There is no other way available in a nondestructive fashion. The only other method would be to take the part, cut it into many tiny pieces, then look at it and measure it, which is obviously unacceptable. It would make the part useless.
How does 3D Engineering Solutions add value to the CT Scanning process?
3D Engineerings Solutions adds tremendous value to industrial CT scanning of aerospace parts. One of the largest factors is the equipment that we use, very specialized, state of the art equipment. A very large staff that is trained, I believe we have the largest staff available of any service provider, and we’re also all metrologists at heart so we understand the science of measuring and for CT scanning it’s really turning into more of a measuring tool than a visualizing tool. In the past, CT scanning was mostly used to look for defects or to visualize things that aren’t readily seen.
Now with the new CT equipment, which 3D Engineering Solutions has, we’re not only about to look at it, find defects, we’re able to accurately measure and certify those measurements which was not possible in the recent past. The staff size at 3D Engineering Solutions that we’re able to provide is a tremendous value. The value is in being able to quickly get data that you need on your parts. There are other service providers that only one or two or a few staff who understand what needs to be done. Our larger staff allows us to work 24/7 if needed and that enables manufacturers to get their parts to market quicker. We have a wide variety of tools; touchless data scanning including CT scanning, lasers, structured light, touch probe. And having this large variety allows us to do many of these different processes on our customer’s parts without having to send them to an outside source which might put their confidentiality at risk.
We’ve done many different projects for aerospace in the area of additive manufacturing. A lot of times our customers are looking to understand process parameters, so what they’ll do is they’ll make many samples of a very similar part made with different processes within their equipment. They want to understand for example if the porosity is different, if something about the structure or geometry changes internally that they can’t measure otherwise. So they’ll give us many samples and we’ll check those. Other times they’ll take parts that they’re meaning to put into aircraft or test engines, and they’ll have us look at it and measure it and provide them information so they can verify that yes, the intent of the design is being met with what was actually constructed in the additive process.
At 3D Engineering Solutions our client’s project confidentiality is of greatest import. We have well over 900 customers in every field that I can think of. Each of them is trying something new or innovative or they’re doing something they want to keep internal. We at 3D fully understand that are able to keep that fully confidential.