HomeIoTAdditive Manufacturing – New Frontiers for Manufacturing & Validation

Additive Manufacturing – New Frontiers for Manufacturing & Validation

February 8, 2022

Supply: Peter de Groot, Chief Scienitist | Zygo Company | Manufacturing Tomorrow 

Over the previous couple of many years, additive manufacturing (AM) / 3D printing has basically modified the best way that producers strategy product growth.  Trade is now virtually universally conscious of the time period fast prototyping, utilizing AM to transform 3D CAD knowledge into bodily fashions in a matter of hours. The position of AM in prototyping has change into embedded throughout all industrial sectors.

AM has enabled concurrent engineering, the place all related departments could be engaged early within the product growth course of. Concurrent engineering replaces conventional “over-the-wall” product growth, the place design iterations may very well be delayed by weeks to accommodate tooling and machining issues. The advantages are dramatic time-to-market reductions and value financial savings in product growth.  

AM is a uniquely disruptive know-how. 25-30 years in the past, it modified the manufacturing paradigm by altering the best way that producers produced prototypes.  At this time, it’s disrupting the best way that producers produce end-use elements and parts and is more and more seen as a really viable manufacturing approach. Now the dialog amongst producers is round probably the most even handed use of AM for manufacturing, its benefits, the candy spot is by way of manufacturing volumes, key alternatives, and obstacles to entry. Many of those obstacles relate to precision high quality management of AM elements, which problem conventional strategies of floor metrology.


With the main focus at the moment being on using AM for manufacturing, the evaluation of the accuracy and repeatable tolerance attainment of AM has change into a much more vital concern. When used as a prototyping know-how, absolute adherence to tolerances and exact design intent is just not all the time crucial, and a “adequate” strategy could be taken. Therefore the proliferation of fairly cheap desktop 3D printing machines that present sufficiently correct fast prototypes that do the job with no need to be pitch good.

For manufacturing functions, nonetheless, “adequate” is not adequate. If an AM half is integral to a security vital aerospace or medical utility, it’s important to attain dimensional and materials tolerance targets in step with design intent. It’s right here that the position of metrology to validate the standard of completed elements is so essential. Additionally it is an space the place suppliers like ZYGO of 3D optical metrology options could make a distinction.


Legacy manufacturing processes for metals and plastics have established high quality management strategies for validating and measuring elements. The manufacturing processes are understood, as are probably the most vital dimensional and floor end necessities. AM, nonetheless, does precisely what the title implies — it produces elements layer by layer “additively”, and this opens up an array of distinctive points that may have an effect on the integrity of a completed product, and likewise a novel set of floor traits that make the job of measuring and validating that rather more tough.

How the sector is responding to the metrology and validation conundrum was extremely seen on the current (and largest) AM-related occasion on the calendar, Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany. At varied studying occasions on-site, metrology points featured prominently, acknowledging the truth that measurement and validation of AM elements is an enormous deal at the moment. As well as, AM know-how suppliers are actually creating in-process metrology (IPM) options to beat the specialised challenges of verifying the integrity of AM processes.

AM applied sciences and metrology strategies have additionally captured the eye {of professional} societies that set up conferences and symposia worldwide. These embody the American Society of Precision Engineering (ASPE), the Worldwide Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and the Worldwide Academy for Manufacturing Engineering (CIRP). ZYGO participates in these occasions actively as an business supporter, exhibitor, and presenter of scientific and engineering papers on the most recent developments.


Within the seek for related metrology vital to course of management, business remains to be making an attempt to grasp what to search for on and beneath the floor of an AM produced half, and the way these relate to half performance. Surfaces of AM elements problem current floor topography measurement and defy characterization utilizing standardized texture parameters due to excessive floor slopes, voids, weld marks, and undercut options.

Analysis into new and improved metrology for AM is advancing by way of a variety of business and tutorial partnerships, many in cooperation with ZYGO. An instance is figure on the College of Nottingham, the place the Manufacturing Metrology Group (MMT) led by Prof. Richard Leach is investigating the complete vary of options, from high-precision interference microscopy to X-ray tomography of the inner construction of accomplished elements. 

In simply the previous 4 years, the MMT has printed 43 analysis papers on AM, starting from strategies to optimize measurements on particular devices to new feature-based evaluation and machine studying to interpret outcomes. Of explicit curiosity is IPM for evaluating the standard throughout manufacture, following every additive line and layer in actual time. This data can be utilized to tell management methods and later in-process metrology developments. An essential a part of IPM growth is correlating to reference metrology, together with benchtop floor metrology devices.

One other instance of modern analysis is on the College of North Carolina at
Charlotte, the place Prof. Christopher Evans and associates have been utilizing interferometry and electron microscopy to check AM supplies in collaboration with the US Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Expertise (NIST), and Carl Zeiss GmbH at Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory (ORNL). These researchers have been learning Inconel 625 — a excessive temperature Ni superalloy for AM, that displays an intriguing number of floor signatures. These surfaces have areas wealthy in oxide movies which might be seen in true-colour, 3D floor topography maps obtained with ZYGO’s interference microscopes. These devices additionally function glorious workhorses for analyzing giant areas with excessive element, similar to distorted weld swimming pools, by assembling or ‘stitching’ collectively a number of high-lateral decision photographs every with thousands and thousands of knowledge factors.

Whereas the challenges of high quality management of AM elements are an ideal concern for many who make these elements, these similar challenges current a sexy alternative for brand spanking new options and spinoff companies. Based in 2018 within the UK, Taraz Metrology is an instance of a by-product enterprise which mixes college analysis, sensible engineering, and industrial expertise into a novel product growth functionality custom-made to the wants of AM. Taraz at the moment affords freestanding closing inspection options for every type of AM elements and leverages proprietary software program for superior fringe projection and photogrammetry of topography.


The flexibility of AM to supply geometrically complicated elements, its position as an enabler of mass customization, and the potential time and value financial savings affiliate with its use are all essential for the way forward for business. Nonetheless, when in comparison with extra acquainted and established manufacturing strategies, AM know-how is dynamic and quickly evolving, and know-how innovators are working to beat the obstacles to adoption of AM for manufacturing functions, together with these associated to high quality management requirements. 

ZYGO is actively researching calibration, traceability, characterization, and verification for floor topography measurements, with 16 papers printed within the final 5 years alone on these matters, and an extra seven particularly targeted on bodily modelling of optical measurements of floor buildings — together with complicated, steeply-sloped surfaces attribute of AM elements — and 5 extra papers on the measurement of AM elements per se.

ZYGO can be a accomplice within the €2.2M EMPIR 20IND07 TracOptic undertaking, with the title “Traceable industrial 3D roughness and dimensional measurement utilizing optical 3D microscopy and optical distance sensors” — of apparent worth to the AM sector. 

Nationwide and worldwide requirements are vital each to Trade adoption and to assuring high quality management throughout a number of, creating manufacturing applied sciences. ZYGO is an energetic member of ISO TC213 WG16 for the event of the ISO 25178 floor texture requirements, working in collaboration with worldwide consultants on the ISO 25178-603 and 25178-604 requirements for interference microscopy, and the 25178-700 normal for instrument calibration and traceability. ZYGO can be a member of the ASME B46.1 working group on floor texture evaluation, which at the moment features a process group concentrating on AM metrology requirements. 


Measurements of AM elements post-process serve to validate conformance with design intent, and to supply clues into fabrication issues left by floor signatures. Nonetheless, the distinctiveness of AM processes and produced elements lead producers to make use of an array of various mechanical and metrology verification strategies. They undertake an empirical strategy as nobody resolution is trusted to supply correct sufficient knowledge. Gage R&R is used as a stand-in for a extra rigorous measurement uncertainty strategy. As a consequence, AM elements are sometimes “over-tested” to enhance confidence, however this implies additional time and further price, areas that have to be addressed to make AM for manufacturing extra viable. 

The open query is the right way to enhance this example for larger effectivity whereas sustaining confidence. The reply is for metrology options suppliers to adapt current metrology applied sciences to higher align them with the distinctive traits of the AM course of and end-use AM elements, that are characterised by irregular, steeply sloped floor topography that many measurement applied sciences fail to seize. 

By intensive analysis and growth of the foundational coherence scanning interferometry (CSI) know-how within the ZYGO 3D optical profilers, high-accuracy AM metrology instruments are actually out there to business. Each devices use revolutionary {hardware} and software program upgrades, the package deal of enhancements being referred to internally at ZYGO as “Extra Information Expertise,” which makes the devices a lot better suited to AM elements. 

“Extra Information” considerably improves the baseline sensitivity of CSI and allows high-dynamic vary (HDR) operation making it invaluable for a variety of elements, from steeply sloped clean elements to exceptionally tough textures with poor reflectivity. Moreover, HDR measures elements with a variety of reflectance, typically a wrestle for different devices that use interferometry as a measurement precept. ZYGO was the primary to reveal full-colour floor topography measurement of steel additive manufactured surfaces utilizing interferometry, and ZYGO engineers actively use AM internally for instrument prototyping and functions growth.


With AM now a longtime manufacturing know-how for sure functions, there are obstacles to mass adoption which might be being addressed, together with the necessity for in-process and post-process metrology applied sciences that may validate the standard and accuracy of the elements produced. AM elements have a novel set of traits that render conventional measuring applied sciences impotent in some conditions, and at the moment revolutionary metrology applied sciences are being developed that may present significant measurement knowledge effectively and cost-effectively. Solely when such points are addressed will using AM change into mainstream as a viable manufacturing know-how throughout an array of business sectors and functions.


Many due to Chris Younger, MicroPR&M, for excellent discussions and contributions to this text.

About Peter de Groot
Peter de Groot, PhD, is Chief Scientist at Zygo Company, which is owned by AMETEK, Inc., a number one international producer of digital devices and electromechanical gadgets with annual gross sales of roughly $5 billion. ZYGO designs and manufactures optical metrology devices, high-precision optical parts, and complicated electro-optical programs, and Its merchandise make use of varied optical part and evaluation strategies for measuring displacement, floor form and texture, and movie thickness. Electro-Optics and Optical Parts companies leverage ZYGO’s experience in optical design and meeting, and high-volume manufacturing of precision optical parts and programs, for the medical/life sciences, protection and industrial markets.



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