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Understanding differences in 3D printing microstructures

2015 05 29 Boosting Confidence in New Manufacturing Technologies


The challenge with additively manufactured parts is that they are typically composed of countless micron-scale weld beads piled on top of each other. Even when well-known and trusted alloys are used, the additive process produces a material with a much different “microstructure,” endowing the manufactured part with different properties and behaviors than would be expected if the same part were made by conventional manufacturing. Moreover, parts made on different machines may be dissimilar enough from each other that current statistical qualification methods won’t work. Accordingly, each “new” material must be precisely understood—and the new process controlled—to ensure the required degree of confidence in the manufactured product.

To achieve this enhanced manufacturing control, Open Manufacturing is investigating rapid qualification technologies that could be applied not just to additive manufacturing but to any of a range of potentially new manufacturing methodologies. The program comprises three efforts—two focusing on metal additive processes and one on bonded composite structures:

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We are entering a new era of understanding the fabric of microstructures and nanotechnology. 

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