Auburn University Engineers Inspecting & Monitoring Parts with New CT System

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The Auburn Center for Additive Manufacturing, founded in 2015, received another boost recently with the addition of a customized digital radiology vault and specialized additive manufacturing systems, all created by researchers at Auburn University via a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). With this addition, Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, an institution consistently ranking among the top engineering institutions in the country, is now able to inspect AM parts through 3D non-destructive interrogation of ‘mission-critical’ metal parts; not only that, but they are also able to monitor processes in real time—ultimately, assessing quality throughout production and confirming internal dimensions of each structure.

Collaborating with the University, NIST, NASA, and ASTM International, Auburn’s Center for Additive Manufacturing offers the following:

  • Innovative research
  • Training and education for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Development of technology advancing the AM industry

As professor of materials engineering and principal investigator for the NIST grant, Bart Prorok explains that with the new system, the engineering team is able to offer ‘precise design interrogation capabilities’ not possible before—a common benefit of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and especially when more complex geometries are involved.

“The grant enabled us to purchase this unit and begin to provide metrology and other information that NIST can use in their standardization efforts as well as support our standardization efforts in our AM effort here at Auburn,” Prorok said. “It’s important because we can identify defects made during the fabrication process and we can confirm internal dimensions and structures and quality of what we build overall without destroying it.

“It’s a real game-changer because while we’re building a component with additive, it’s difficult to monitor what’s happening,” Prorok continued. “With this new system, we can take two-dimensional X-ray pictures of a metal structure for real-time process monitoring or a series of 2D images in 360 degrees of rotation that are then reconstructed into a 3D representation of the build.”

An Auburn University researcher studies a 3D rendering of scans produced by a state-of-the-art $1.5 million X-Ray CT system recently acquired through a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Current collaborations with industry leaders like NASA, NIST, the U.S. Army, and ASTM International (along with other well-established organizations in both aerospace and aviation) continue to stimulate research at Auburn, to include a recent grant from NASA of $5.2 million to allow them to continue researching and developing AM processes further, but also techniques in the fabrication of liquid rocket engines.

While many different colleges and universities around the world focus on partnerships to propel digital fabrication and technology further, Auburn has been the recipient of research agreements with NASA, formal partnerships with standards organization ASTM International, and more. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Auburn University; Cision]

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