The Detection of Unfused Powder in EBM and SLM Additive Manufactured Components

Ahmed Tawfik, Mohamed Radwan, Mazen Ahmed Attia, Paul Bills, Radu Racasan, Liam Blunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Additive manufacturing (AM) is recognized as a core technology for producing high value, complex, and individually designed components as well as prototypes, giving AM a significant advantage over subtractive machining. Selective laser melting (SLM) or electron beam melting (EBM) are two of the main technologies used for producing metal components. The powder size varies, depending on the technology and manufacturer, from 20–50 µm for SLM and 45–100 µm for EBM. One of the current barriers for implementing AM for most industries is the lack of build repeatability and a deficit in quality assurance standards. The mechanical properties of the components depend critically on the density achieved; therefore, defect analysis and detection of unfused powder must be carried out to verify the integrity of the components. Detecting unfused powder in AM parts using X-ray computed tomography (XCT) is challenging because detection relies on variations in density. Unfused particles have the same density as the manufactured parts; therefore, detection is difficult using standard methods for density measurement. This study presents a methodology to detect unfused powders in SLM and EBM-manufactured components. Aluminum and titanium artefacts with designed internal defects filled with unfused powder are scanned with XCT and the results are analyzed with VGSTUDIO Max 3.0 (Volume Graphics, Germany) software package. Preliminary results indicate that detecting unfused powder in an aluminum SLM artifact with a 9.5 µm voxel size is achievable. This is possible because of the size of the voids between the powder particles and the nonuniform shape of the particles. Conversely, detecting unfused powder in the EBM-manufactured titanium artifact is less challenging owing to the uniform spherical shape and slightly larger size of the particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1035
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Automation Technology
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2020

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