Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing

Automotive and aerospace companies are in a constant race to increase energy efficiency and design flexibility, lower production and service costs and reduce manufacturing cycle time while ensuring the reliability and safety of their products. For many of these companies, additive manufacturing (AM) looks like the solution to all of these market demands. Additive manufacturing is a process where metallic powder is formed into a solid state through melting or sintering. Most common melting techniques consist of scanning a laser (Direct Laser Selective Melting, DLSM) or electron beam (Electron Beam Melting - EBM) across subsequent layers of metal powder in a printer’s “powder bed” to build up a final, finished AM part. The technique is also known as powder bed fusion or LPBF. 

However, many companies find that the move from prototyping to production with AM is challenging. To get defect-free, repeatable results requires process characterization and QA/QC controls that are unique to AM. Bruker has unmatched experience and breath of solutions to help maximize AM Profits.

Correctly specifying and monitoring the chemical and mechanical properties of metal powders used in the AM process is absolutely critical. Inclusions, voids, porosity variation as well as changes is mechanical properties (hardness, brittleness) can result from improper alloy use and contamination of incoming, stored and recycled powders. Bruker has an extensive portfolio of equipment to for characterization and QA/QC of metal powders including: X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzers, Combustion Gas Analyzers (C, S) and Inert Gas Fusion – Mass Spectrometry (O, N, H, Ar) instruments.

The AM printing process itself, if not properly characterized, can also be a source of a wide range of defects. For material extrusion techniques, an optimum balance needs to be found between scanning speed, laser or electron beam power (extrusion speed and temperature for wire) and bed thickness. To characterize the AM process and monitor witness samples during production and after finishing steps (heat treatment-HIP, milling and grinding/polishing), Bruker offers an unmatched suite of products for dimensional, chemical and mechanical testing and analysis.

Contamination of parts during printing can be an underappreciated issue. Diffusible hydrogen must be controlled to prevent hydrogen embrittlement of the printed part and residual argon content in the printed parts can impact down- stream processing steps. Bruker’s Inert Gas Fusion – Mass Spectrometry systems are critical tools to monitor H and Ar in your process.

Critical to the structural integrity, performance and fit of the final AM produced part are its bulk and surface properties. Bruker’s Micro Computed Tomography (µCT) 3D microscopy scanners provide quantitative identification of volume porosity, inclusions, cracks and printing defects in the bulk or on the surface and highlight differences between the as-printed part, post-machined part and the CAD model at internal and external surfaces.

X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analyzers are widely used in AM process development to identify causes of dimensional instability like austenitic phase transformations in ferrous alloys and to identify sources of residual stress. Compressive surface stress indicates long lifespan and tensile surface stress can lead to premature part failure.

Bruker’s industry leading 3D Optical profilers are common throughout industry and provide fast, non-contact surface profiling of nano to micron scale surface features. Surface cracks, pits, voids and other defects can be characterized so that process issues can be traced down and eliminated. Critical dimensions of milled features of the 3D printed part can be verified. Surface roughness (Sa), waviness and texture that impact both down-stream processing steps and product performance in the application for which it was designed can be monitored easily.

For AM process development and failure analysis, Bruker mechanical testing and portfolio of analysis tools provide unique insight. Our Nano Indentation (NI) systems provide precise, high-resolution microstructure property analysis and quantitatively map mechanical properties as a function of processing parameters.

To ensure the finished parts can meet the rigorous demands of Automotive and Aerospace applications, Bruker’s Universal Mechanical Tester (UMT) offers a comprehensive solution for compressive tribology. With a broad range of application modules, you can characterize printed and finished part hardness, wear rates & resistance and sensitivity to friction and load to ensure process integrity and identify issues.

To extend your SEM/TEM analytical power, Bruker also provides Electron Microscope Analyzers (EMA) including the world’s leading portfolio of analytical software and analyzers for advanced materials research, process development and failure analysis laboratories.

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