3-in-1 X-ray CT Inspection

Lead Participant: X-Tek Systems Limited

Abstract

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a highly disruptive and rapidly developing manufacturing
technology with the potential to revolutionise the design, manufacturing and supply of parts,
particularly within key high value manufacturing sectors. AM affords design freedom that can
result in highly complex geometries. The benefits are enhanced functionality, significant mass
savings and (potentially) reduced components cost. Although an inherent advantage, such
geometric complexity provides a significant challenge for the inspection of AM parts.
X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) generates a 3D image of the object, thus allowing
detection of entrapped powder and voids, measurement of deviation of all surfaces and,
potentially, extraction of surface topography. XCT can be used:
During the product and process development to understand failures; the information
obtained can be used to reduce the likelihood of build failure at each design iteration.
Post-build to verify the quality of the product.
XCT is the only viable method for non-destructive imaging (US Air Force Research Labs, 2014)
and measurement of metallic products with surfaces that are inaccessible to conventional
inspection technologies e.g. optical scanning and tactile probing. However, the capital costs
are high and so increase the cost of AM product development, part qualification and, in
production, of post-build inspection.
3in1XCT will develop the world's first system (hardware and software) to integrate advanced
NDT, dimensional inspection and high-fidelity surface topography extraction for complete postbuild
inspection. The platform will eliminate the need for other hardware (2D X-ray, optical
scanners, surface profilometers, cut-up etc.) and so reduce the inspection cost per part. Within
the project, the data obtained by the 3in1XCT platform will be exploited to provide feedback to
digital tools for design and process modelling. This will be the first implementation of direct
feedback (real-time within the product development loop) from XCT to design, with the
expectation that this could halve the number of design-build iterations during the AM product
development cycle. Fully automated workflows for both 3-in-1 inspection and for feedback to
the design tools will be developed, eliminating the effort needed from experts in 3D image
processing.
The system will be tested using complex, real world examples provided by the end-users in the
project. The project has representation from automotive, aerospace, space, defence and power
generation- all high value, highly regulated sectors for which the high costs of product
qualification and inspection creates a barrier to the adoption of AM technology.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

X-Tek Systems Limited, Tring £318,385 £ 159,193
 

Participant

University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom £152,604 £ 152,604
Synopsys (Northern Europe) Limited, Reading £296,730 £ 148,365
The Manufacturing Technology Centre Limited, COVENTRY £161,132 £ 161,132
Hieta Technologies Ltd, WOKINGHAM £137,421 £ 96,195

Publications

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