ZEISS Solution Has AM Powder Bed In Its Sights

ZEISS AMcontrol now enables the quality of the powder bed to be observed and analyzed during the 3D printing process. A uniformly distributed and trouble-free powder bed is essential for a stable and reliable additive manufacturing (AM) process. If AM technology is to be used efficiently, users must be able to understand and regulate the entire manufacturing chain. ZEISS offers the widest possible range of solutions from the electron microscope to computer tomography.

ZEISS AMcontrol enables 3D printing to be monitored during the manufacturing process. ZEISS uses AMcontrol, a patented process for manufacturing relief maps, to reliably detect problems such as grooves or protrusions. Abnormalities are automatically detected, classified and marked in a way which is easily understood by the user.

“Our solution significantly reduces the time and effort involved in quality assurance as the user only has to check the relevant images”, emphasized Dr. Bernhard Wiedermann, Director Additive Manufacturing Process & Control at ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions. This really speeds up the evaluation process. If the evaluation is linked to the 3D printer in the form of feedback it enables the company to increase the proportion of good components and reproducibility. ZEISS AMcontrol has tangible advantages for 3D printing, as Wiedemann stresses, “Our technology is very fast and robust in its operation. This is because the quality of the assessment achieved by this patented process is not influenced by the lighting conditions or any powder discoloration.”

In order to use the solution in a practical application, the first step is for ZEISS to cooperate with a manufacturer of AM equipment in marketing the product. The next step will be for ZEISS to adapt AMcontrol to other manufacturers’ equipment. The capabilities of ZEISS AMcontrol are also under continuous development. “Over the longer term we want to offer the user a solution which not only detects defects but evaluates them and is even capable of repairing them”, stated Wiedemann. “This means, for example, that in future ZEISS AMcontrol will not only tell the 3D printer where more powder has to be deposited to fill a groove caused by splashes dragged over the surface. In future it ought to be possible to combine this information with other measurements taken during the printing process and thus simplify quality assurance in 3D printing, or to enable users to speed up the identification of defect sources and relationships between the individual factors of the printing process”, explained Wiedemann.

For more information: www.zeiss.com/metrology