How CT Can Predict the Performance of Agile Additive Manufacturing Designs

April 29, 2019 | Ana Segrt

Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the most revolutionary processes to come along in many years, making a dramatic impact on the industrial market.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the most revolutionary processes to come along in many years, making a dramatic impact on the industrial market. Also known as 3D printing, AM is a manufacturing technique that builds objects layer by layer using materials such as polymers, metals, and composites. This fast-evolving technology is changing the way engineers think about product design by offering enormous flexibility in what is geometrically possible. However, the more complex the design, the more challenging (and necessary) it can be to inspect in the quality control process.

Many additive manufacturers and designers have adopted industrial computed tomography (CT) to perform non-destructive testing (NDT) on the part to ensure quality throughout the R&D and production processes. A CT scan produces a 3D volumetric density map. The 3D-volume is generated by the reconstruction of a high number of 2D x-ray images. Many 2D projection images can be combined by powerful software to produce a 3D volume of practically any part, object, or product. This is critical for any application for which a manufacturer wishes to see inside an object without destroying it – and the inside is where the complexity is increasing with this new manufacturing process.

While CT technology has taken its rightful place as a viable NDT tool, many engineers may not realize what an important role it can play in the discovery phase of research and development. Utilizing CT in R&D can avoid many issues later in the production process by identifying key information about part design, raw materials and how well it matches the intended geometry, all of which are vital to the success of the product. Once designers discover the power that CT can enable as an informational tool rather than just a quality tool, they will never look at CT the same way again. This white paper will help to educate design engineers on the benefits of CT in evaluating part designs to determine how the part will perform, if it is fit for purpose, and if there are any variables in measurement. As with all good things, the information retrieved at the very beginning can help the designer to be more agile and to avoid costly downtime later in the design and eventually production stages. It will also clear up any misconceptions about CT and clarify how recent technology improvements in CT scanning speed, resolution and price-performance ratios make it a great tool for use in the early R&D phase.

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