9/27/2017 | 1 MINUTE READ

Non-Destructive Inspection Method Detects Defects in Process

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The technique, which uses laser ultrasound, could reduce waste and improve efficiency in additive manufacturing.


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A technique that uses laser ultrasound to detect defects could improve the efficiency of metal additive manufacturing and reduce waste. The technique, which is being developed by Dr. Ben Dutton from the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, UK, enables components to be inspected during the build process. This removes the need for a separate inspection process once components are built, potentially encouraging the use of AM in mass manufacturing and responding to the need for improved testing techniques as use of additive manufacturing increases in industries such as automotive and aerospace.

According to Dr. Dutton, an expert in non-destructive testing (NDT), current in-process monitoring systems that use cameras to take snapshots of the layers as an item is being created are not always effective because parts of the defect can be concealed as new layers of powder are added. Non-destructive testing methods, such as laser ultrasound, can penetrate beneath the top layer to detect subsurface defects without contact. The technique has potential for use with powder-bed and direct-deposition AM processes, and with components with complex shapes.

Dr. Dutton adds that inspecting components during build reduces waste by enabling manufacturers to stop builds as soon as defects are identified. It can also streamline efficiency by eliminating the need for a separate inspection when the build is complete.

In addition to developing the laser ultrasound inspection process, Dr. Dutton is helping create ISO standards for inspecting additively manufactured components.