Quality inspection of additively manufactured technical components

The new standard for industrial 3D printing

Today, hardly any common manufacturing process is imaginable without process monitoring. This guarantees reproducible conditions and thus consistently high quality. Industrial 3D printing at HÄNSSLER is now also constantly monitored.

Up to now, the inspection of components in the field of additive manufacturing has usually only assessed surfaces and dimensions. But in technical manufacturing, it is the inner values of the component that matter. The most beautiful additive manufacturing part is useless for industry if it does not meet the required properties in later use. These include strength and temperature resistance, for example. Process monitoring plays a key role here.

A software for additive manufacturing processes

In 3D printing, there are numerous factors that influence the finished part. Monitoring and evaluating these parameters is therefore an important step for reliable production of additive manufacturing parts for industry.

To meet this requirement, we use special software to continuously record the different temperature values, such as jet, build room or print bed temperature, during the entire printing process. In addition, other important measured variables such as the air humidity in the material chamber are recorded during production.

From these collected values, the additive manufacturing process can be analyzed and evaluated afterwards – layer by layer. If there are data that lie outside the required tolerances, an exact color marking is made in the affected layer. This form of quality control once again qualifies additive manufacturing as a manufacturing process for industrially used components.

Quality control in 3D printing

Why is quality assurance necessary in 3D printing?

In industrial manufacturing, quality assurance is always an important component in order to be able to deliver consistently high quality to the customer. This is just as true in classic manufacturing as it is in 3D printing.

Which parameters should be monitored within the quality inspection?

Which parameters are relevant for testing must always be agreed individually with the customer. Not every component requires an intensive examination of numerous parameters. What exactly has to be tested depends on the requirements that the customer defines for the finished component.

Systems for quality assurance in additive manufacturing

There are different methods for measuring the components, depending on the component and the parameter to be measured.

With the help of the measuring arm, a component from the large-capacity printer for the air conditioning of the machine park is measured

Classic measurement method

The classic measuring method is manual measurement. This can be done, for example, with a caliper gauge, a dial gauge or a height measurement device. This method is mainly used for smaller dimensions and allows simple and quick control, even during a running production series.

Optical measuring instrument

An optical measuring device is ideal for checking bores, radii and edges. Here, the component is placed on a glass plate that is illuminated from below. The resulting contours can then be measured optically with the aid of software. However, this method is only suitable for contours that are directly on the inside or outside of the component. Hidden areas that are not reached by the light are difficult to measure with this method.

Tactile measurement

Another measuring method is tactile measurement with the use of a probe. With a coordinate measuring machine, the desired parameters are probed and measured in this way. This also allows the measurement of shapes on various sections of the component. By defining a fixed zero point, the position of the various geometry elements in relation to each other is also possible.

Measuring arm

If it is a component from one of our large-capacity printers that no longer fits on the coordinate measuring machine, then our measuring arm comes into play. It also measures tactilely, and with its movable measuring arm it can also measure components over one meter. With its help, the measurement of large complex free-form surfaces is also possible.

Software for high temperature printer

In order to detect possible defects directly during the printing process, our high-temperature printer uses software that monitors the printer’s parameters during the printing process. For example, temperature fluctuations at the jet can be used to directly detect defects in the component and these areas can then be specifically checked for weaknesses.

What information is necessary for manufacturing?

In order to deliver the best possible product to our customer, it is essential for us to know which parameters are important later and need to be checked or adjusted. Many customers send us a STEP or even only a STL file. With an STL file we have no possibility to react to possible tolerances and to adjust the parameters for printing. Therefore, in the best case, we need STEP files for production.

But even these do not provide us with the necessary information, such as tolerances, shape and position or surface finishes. For this we need an additional technical drawing. All necessary parameters are then noted on this drawing.

Get free advice now!

Our 3D printing professionals look forward to hearing from you. Together, you will discuss the individual challenges and find economical solutions for the production of your components.

Arrange your non-binding initial meeting today.

Your contact for Quality inspection of additively manufactured components