In the future, many components will come from the 3D printer, especially those that are custom-made for specific users - from prostheses to spare parts for vintage vehicles. Additive manufacturing processes, aka 3D printing, make it possible to produce individual pieces that are individually tailored to the application. In additive material extrusion, molten material is applied layer by layer. This process can also be used to process high-performance plastics used, for example, in medical technology, electrical engineering or aircraft construction.
But it is precisely with high-quality products, for example in medical or mechanical engineering, where no compromises as to the quality are acceptable. And to date it is difficult to verify the quality within the additive manufacturing processes. Many companies are therefore still reluctant to use 3D printing.
In addition to the external geometry, the internal structure is also critical for component quality. Honeycomb structures often ensure that the 3D-printed component is light and yet as stable as possible. In order to detect defects such as irregularities or cavities in the internal structure, the component must currently be X-rayed. So far, there is no functioning process-integrated monitoring for 3D printing processes based on the principle of material extrusion. The IPH research project Quali3D will change this. The goal of the scientists: In the future, it will be possible to check component quality during printing. Together with his team at IPH, project manager Alexander Oleff is developing an optical measuring system that can be integrated into an extrusion 3D printer.