Quality assurance through process monitoring

To ensure the quality of the components produced, both process monitoring and powder analyses are carried out and further developed at AMLab. Process monitoring serves to check defined process parameters. In an ideal process, the desired output parameters are produced with known input parameters. Only through external influences/ disturbance variables is the process influenced, and undesirable deviations of the output values can occur. These deviations can have an intolerable influence on subsequent process steps or the component properties in many processes. Often, a quality inspection is performed downstream for safety and defect detection, which requires additional time and increases costs.

The goal of monitoring in parallel with the manufacturing process is to replace downstream quality checks as far as possible and, in the event of a deviation detected in the process, to intervene and, if feasible, actively control the process. Additive manufacturing is a relatively young manufacturing technology, and the processes are subject to many different influences, the effects of which on component quality are not yet fully known.

AMLab has been involved with additive manufacturing since its inception and has built up a high level of process understanding over the years. To better capture and document the initially implicit empirical knowledge, AMLab specialized early on in the area of process monitoring to be able to capture and document the continuously gained knowledge through measurements. Process monitoring, which has been practiced for many years, is used in numerous research and industrial projects.

Quality assurance through powder analysis

The powder is the starting material for many additive manufacturing processes and is another important factor influencing the resulting quality. To achieve a consistently high quality of the resulting components, it is important to understand, control, and, if necessary, manage both positive and negative influences on the condition of the powder. This can be achieved by implementing a suitable powder process chain in combination with targeted powder analysis. In the AMLab, special attention is paid to the subject area of the powder. In a separate powder analysis laboratory, characteristic properties such as particle size distribution, particle shape, chemical composition, oxidation, and flowability can be measured. As a service, we offer our partners the possibility to determine their specific powder properties with our modern measuring equipment. Furthermore, we can provide support in setting up their own powder analysis laboratory.

Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities in the design and layout of components. Different design strategies can be pursued, which are also applied at AMLab. We support our partners in applying the possibilities of additive manufacturing to their products and implementing advanced design approaches on customer components (or former assemblies).

Optimal lightweight designs are difficult to implement using conventional manufacturing technologies due to process-specific boundary conditions. Additive manufacturing processes, such as laser beam melting, can provide a remedy here. The layer-by-layer generating process sequence enables the production of complicated components in small quantities with high economic efficiency. Also, due to low geometric constraints, additive manufacturing offers the potential to implement lightweight design approaches almost without restrictions and exploit them to their full potential. Additive manufacturing processes are particularly suitable for implementing bionic lightweight structures. Complex bionic structures can only be produced economically in this way. The structure optimized by plants and animals over many millions of years can now be seen as an inspiration for technical issues. The optimization processes developed and the use of additive manufacturing make it possible to design and manufacture components that follow the general bionic rule of a position-optimal component design. In discussion with us, we can open up possibilities of implementing the findings for your design.