X-ray specialists from Empa (Dübendorf, Switzerland) collaborated with scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) (Villigen, Switzerland) to provide their industrial partners with access to state-of-the-art material analysis of 3D-printed work pieces and components. For this purpose, Empa, an interdisciplinary research institute for materials science and technology development, recently became a member of the technology transfer center ANAXAM in Villigen.
Initiated in 2019 by PSI and other scientific institutes and organizations, ANAXAM fosters an exchange of experience among researchers in the growing field of additive manufacturing. In addition, advanced analytical equipment is now available to industry partners—an important factor in ensuring quality control in 3D printing.
Three Empa devices in particular should be of interest to developers of 3D-printing solutions.
In the Linac high-energy X-ray tomograph, which is particularly suitable for large components, work pieces up to 70 cm (27.6 in) in diameter and 2 m (6.6 ft) high can be analyzed. The X-rays penetrate steel up to 35 cm (13.8 in) in thickness. X-ray images of specimens made of reinforced concrete are also possible with this device.
On the other side of the scale is the RX X-ray tomograph, which can produce images with a resolution of 0.6 µm. This means that even the smallest material defects can be detected. Empa's phase-contrast X-ray equipment is particularly well-suited for lightweight materials, such as plastic components, which show only low contrasts in X-ray light. Thanks to a special analysis of the scattered X-rays, this new method can achieve resolutions down to 1 µm.
The instruments available at Empa's X-ray Center are complemented by the Empa Platform for Image Analysis, which uses sophisticated image processing methods to make the information in the two- and three-dimensional X-ray scans accessible. And with training courses for experts from industry, Empa scientists make sure the analytical methods are used safely and effectively.
The ANAXAM technology transfer center is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Transfer Center (AM-TTC) alliance, which Empa helped to establish. The AM-TTC initiative is a measure in the Federal Government's Action Plan on Digitization of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to promote innovation and accelerate knowledge transfer.
Source: Empa, www.empa.ch