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US Air Force Awards Structured Light In-Situ Inspection Contract

Phase3D, a Chicago-based startup focused on in-situ inspection for powder-based additive manufacturing (AM), has been awarded a 2-year $1.25 million contract from the Air Force Research Lab to develop a quality inspection system for cold spray AM (CSAM). This new technology will be installed at Ellsworth Air Force base in South Dakota.

CSAM has the potential to produce large parts and repair or reclad existing parts quickly for the Department of Defense (DoD). The challenge today with CSAM is gathering objective data on the part as it is being built. Phase3D’s work through this contract will provide high quality, objective data on the process, something critical to growing its use case, especially in the field.

Structured Light In-Situ Inspection

The Phase3D flagship Fringe in-situ inspection system will be adapted to monitor CSAM deposits to ensure uniform material deposition. For advanced manufacturing to increase adoption and use cases, more repeatable, quantifiable, and objective data needs to be gathered for every step of the workflow. The contract will demonstrate a full solution of in-situ monitoring for CSAM which will help a technology with a lot of potential grow.

The contract will build upon ongoing research by Phase3D and its research collaborators, including VRC Metals, a subcontractor for this project. The work will adapt Fringe, Phase3D’s structured light in-situ inspection technology for powder bed fusion and binder jetting to CSAM. This system will produce the same high-quality quantitative height maps for the metal powder deposited onto the substrate, as well as an intuitive visualization platform for technicians and engineers.

The goals of the project are to validate a working concept of structured light measurements on a CSAM system and demonstrate the full solution for real time quality monitoring to support recladding, repair, and reinforcement. This project will work to provide a basis for the creation of specifications and printing guidelines for CASM.

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