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By Filippo Gilardi
Robotic Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing, in short WAAM as one of the direct-energy-deposition (DED) technologies, is the fastest growing metal additive technology and is adopted with great success in industrial use cases.
It replaces casts, forges and manually welded parts. A welding robot deposits metal layer-by-layer using MIG or CMT. The material characteristic of WAAM printed parts show high strength and homogeneity, especially compared to casting or laser-based processes. MX3D is a key player in the industrial WAAM market supplying a turnkey solution, an end-to-end software workflow and production services for every market with large complex metal parts like the maritime, manufacturing and energy industries.
With advanced slicing and process control technologies WAAM parts are fabricated with a high quality and perhaps more important in the context of this blog, with high consistency. WAAM printed parts have been successfully qualified in various industries. This is one of drivers why the adoption of WAAM is accelerating so much faster than other AM technologies.
Companies, institutions like ISO and ASTM define the standards. Companies like Bureau Veritas (BV) , Lloyds Register (LRQA), the American welding society (AWS) or DNV use these standards and build the framework for a specific application.
The certifying agencies are now moving faster in drafting standards more collectively and work towards faster adoption of additive production procedures. Whereas some industries such as Maritime, Oil & Gas and Aerospace have made faster progress, others are catching up thanks to the effort of standardisation institutions working towards more general and modular standards.
The overarching qualification systematic is modular. It means that the procedures can be tailored to the application, built up from a toolbox of different standards they refer to. The goal is to be as comprehensive and at the same time as flexible as possible. Flexibility is necessary, as in the category of DED, the technologies principles are oftentimes very similar while still having unique features or applications that require their specifications.
There are already a few well outlined standards that are widely applied to WAAM, and covers most of the key elements for printing WAAM components:
Depending on the industry and company requirements for certification, different elements are required.
To figure out which standards have to apply and how to collaborate with the certification agencies is a difficult task to tackle Companies like MX3D have experience in the process of application and help to achieve a streamlined process.
Some generic qualification steps will still remain ‘manual’ also in the future, but many others can be automated with a standardized process. One of the important aspects in qualifying parts is a consistent standard in the data collection and storing. It requires a software that enables a structured procedure.
For any kind of qualification, process traceability and transparency is key. To collect, process and interpret the data in a structured way, the right choice and accuracy of sensors and an advanced logging & control system determines the directness of the qualification process.
To bundle this overwhelming amount of process data, MX3D has developed MetalViz,
A platform, like MetalViz, allows for a centralised overview of the overwhelming amount of process data creating a digital twin of the print. The digital representation can be used for quality assurance, archiving and virtual inspection. The traceability toolkit has been used in various ambitious projects where logging and printing data was a mandatory requirement for the part’s certification.
MetalXL includes a hardware control system for print monitoring and data logging. Thanks to the connected sensors, including current, voltage, and temperature, users can follow the printing process and track parameters in real time in MetalXL Live.
By logging up to 5,000 samples per second on key print parameters creates a 3D print report after the process, allowing visualisation of the logged data at each point of their print in MetalXL Viz.
These print reports give greater insight is to material properties or 3D printed objects by analysing the physical properties and comparing the digital data, faults can be determined earlier and products can have reduced lead times before brought to market.