Automated inline inspection and quality control of net-shape powder metallurgy components using microfocus three-dimensional x-ray computed tomography imaging
The powder metallurgy (PM) process, by its nature, is suited to high-volume production and is increasingly employing finer powders for refined microstructures (nanometre-to very-few-micrometre scale). Therefore any flaws/defects in the parts can have a significant impact on the production output, such as loss of material and efficiency, as well as potential failures in later use.
A system (QualiNET) will be developed for automated quality control of PM components and components produced by other advanced net-shape techniques where similar defects occur. These include powder injection moulding (PIM) and additive manufacturing by laser sintering (also known as laser cladding and by various other names).
Additive manufacturing is also becoming an increasingly popular net-shape materials processing route for production of high-value-added components. There is a need for automated non-destructive inspection, to determine and separate good and bad batches during production, preferably as early as possible in the process, allowing for potential healing, where possible, without having to seek destructive examination carried out manually, which can have a negative impact on the production flow and output. More critically, any faulty part that is overlooked may cause further problems later on, such as unexpected, premature failures in application. Depending on the component and the criticality of the application, this can have drastic consequences.
This project was co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
For more information, please visit the QualiNET website.