IR camera captures defects in 3D printing

Identifying defects in 3D printed items is one of the ongoing challenges to be overcome if the technology is to be more widely adopted. This development is very promising.

Small defects in 3D printed metal parts limit their performance and are roadblocks preventing the technology from being more widely used. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory theorized that the defects stemmed from small voids in the cooled printed metal. The voids (porosity) can make printed components prone to cracking and other failures.

When 3D printing metallic parts, Argonne scientists found a correlation between temperatures at the surface and defects that form below.

To check their theory, they used a 3D printer with an IR camera, a common option, to film the printing process from above. It monitored and recorded temperature data during the build process. At the same time, a high-powered X-ray from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne took a side view of the build it was underway. The goal was to use the X-rays to see voids form and correlate that with what was going on thermally on the surface where new metal was being deposited.

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