3D printing technology is being adopted as a manufacturing technique by more and more industries, and it continues to improve in terms of reliability, but like any method, it’s still not without its flaws. There’s still much more detail to be discovered about how the 3D printing process can go wrong, and a group of researchers led by the U.S Department of Energy have recently been looking into this. The team, consisting of researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology, Argonne National Laboratory, and Carnegie Mellon University, led an investigation into structural defects in 3D printed parts.
Metal 3D printing is the most commonly used form of additive manufacturing on a large-scale, and most techniques involve the use of automated lasers, programmed by a digital model to selectively melt areas of a bed of metal powder. The molten metal eventually re-solidifies, and layer-by-layer a specific 3D shape can be built up in this way. How exactly this molding happens remains something of a mystery, however, and the researchers hoped to shed some light on its inner workings in order to figure out what some common causes of structural defects in 3D printed metal parts might be.