Automated complementary-NDT inspection system for production of AM parts

W Vesga, B Dutton, J R Wright, D Rodriguez-Sanmartin, M Potter, T Martin, M Baratoiu and N Lunn 

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a rapidly growing industry, due in part to the advantages it offers over traditional methods of manufacture, including simplified product design, optimised geometries and component weight reduction. However, these more advanced geometries pose a problem for conventional non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques. NDT is an integral part of the AM process, ensuring both the quality and integrity of the safety critical components. While X-ray computed tomography (XCT) is widely used to assess the integrity of AM parts, it is costly and slow. To speed up the adoption of AM, it is necessary to reduce both scan time and method cost. In the RASCAL project presented here, a novel hybrid approach was developed, using two economical NDT methods that cope with inspection complexity in both macro and micro scales. Robotic control is used to integrate the two inspection techniques, automatically progressing parts through the process and discarding those found to be out of tolerance. The modularity of the system allows either inspection technique to be used individually or in combination, depending on the desired specification. Potential for integration of additional inspection methods further extends flexibility. A dedicated software package manages inspection and sentencing using data fusion and automated defect recognition (ADR) techniques and provides data connectivity for integration in an Industry 4.0 environment.