Integrity Assurance to Determine Additive Manufacturing Safety for Critical Components
Additive manufacturing, often called “3D printing”, uses techniques such as laser fusion of metal powders to create optimal design solutions that could not be made in any other way. Such components are lighter and stronger than conventional parts, but because of the way they are made the standard methods for assuring their quality cannot be used. This is a particular problem for safety-critical components in industries like nuclear and aerospace.
Working with UKAEA, inspection bodies, and aerospace companies, a risk-based analysis methodology was developed that assessed the fatigue lives for an otherwise perfect component based on a number of worst-case potential flaws then statistically assessed the probability of inclusions, voids, or unfused particles with the critical region. The method was complex but could be automated easily for any given geometry, quickly leading to a risk assessment for that component that would inform the test regime during manufacture.
In a rapidly expanding field this methodology remains to be further developed to account for the growing range of material types and manufacturing techniques. However, the initial test applications have been very successful.
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