The National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME), based at Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University, Alabama, USA, is set to employ X-ray CT technology and specialised in-house-designed Additive Manufacturing systems for the in-process inspection of additively manufactured parts. An X-ray CT system was acquired by the college with the assistance of a $1.5 million grant from the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The new system incorporates a customised digital radiology vault from Pinnacle X-Ray Solutions, Inc., Suwanee, Georgia, USA, which accommodates Additive Manufacturing machines designed and built by the university’s researchers to fit within it. This enables the engineers and partners to conduct three-dimensional, non-destructive interrogation of mission-critical metal parts, as well as providing real-time monitoring of the AM process. The system is also able to confirm internal dimensions of structures and assess the quality of finished parts.
The NCAME was established in 2015 and conducts research, trains and educates graduate and undergraduate students, and develops and promotes technological innovations with the aim of advancing the Additive Manufacturing industry. NASA recently awarded Auburn University $5.2 million to develop AM processes and techniques for improving the performance of liquid rocket engines.
“It’s a real game-changer because while we’re building a component with additive, it’s difficult to monitor what’s happening,” stated Bart Prorok, Professor of Materials Engineering and Principal Investigator on the NIST grant. “With this new system, we can take two-dimensional X-ray pictures of a metal structure for real-time process monitoring or a series of 2D images in 360° of rotation that are then reconstructed into a 3D representation of the build.”