Ongoing developments in additive manufacturing technology are driving forward a whole new wave of efficiencies and enhanced manufacturing capabilities across a wide range of industries. In the ideal case, using additive techniques for creation of a range of different parts allows for increased speed of deployment, increased strength from unified body shape, and manufacture of parts with geometries that would be impossible with traditional casting or forming techniques.
The methods used to create these parts can introduce a host of issues that are still being explored, with new potential issues developing as fast as the manufacturing techniques themselves. Examination in the variation of particle size or material distribution in a floating bed system, flow control in an additive nozzle system, or variation in curing or laser sintering flux are examples of what can all be important parameters for the manufacturing process. While in an ideal case, these materials function analogous to traditionally manufactured materials when all the parameters are right, there are often variations that need to be examined and addressed. Materials manufactured with these new techniques don’t have the wealth of historic data available for traditional methods, and so there can be significant variations in performance that aren’t immediately apparent without testing and careful analysis.
EMSL has the experience and the range of analytical tools necessary to assist companies growing into additive manufacturing endeavors. EMSL’s scientists can perform mechanical and structural testing on a wide variety of parts made from both hard and soft materials, comparing performance to traditionally created parts and simulated analysis of designs. Polymer formulation, composition, and solvent content can be measured using chemical and spectroscopic techniques. Hard materials can be examined with XRD, metallography, EBSD, and microsections to ensure the proper microstructure is present. Finally, the shape and tolerances of an entire part or device can be examined using X-ray or surface profilometry, and X-ray CT can check for voids, inclusions, or internal fractures. While additive manufacturing methods offer unprecedented opportunities in engineering, it also proffers unique challenges - challenges that EMSL can help you overcome.