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As part of its AddiLine project, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS are currently developing a method for monitoring in real time the quality of 3D-printed components during their production. The method will initially be tested with the institute’s thermoplastic 3D printing process (T3DP) . The aim of the new solution is to detect defects and to check specific material properties, such as porosity. A unit with a light barrier monitors whether the material to be printed is actually leaving the printer or not; this is a prerequisite for correctly bonding the material drops so that no air inclusions occur. In addition, laser speckle photometry (LSP) checks the predefined properties of the workpiece’s structure in real time. The aim of the project is to develop a non-contact, two-component measuring system that can be integrated in a 3D printer.

Several industry partners are involved in the project. In a second phase, the researchers plan to extend the system to incorporate a function to inspect additional physical, mechanical, and thermal properties of 3D workpieces. The lower volume of waste produced should help cut manufacturing costs.