Vanderbilt Researchers Inspect 3D Printed Parts with Gold Nanoparticles
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Source: Design News
The ability to accurately assess the structural integrity of 3D printed parts is a critical step in advancing additive manufacturing (AM). Oak Ridge National Laboratory has identified fault detection and overall part quality as one of the fundamental challenges that is currently limiting the use and applications of polymer-based additive manufacturing. As a result, quality assurance and inspection methodologies for additive manufacturing are being pursued relentlessly in both academia and industry.

Vanderbilt University, 3D printing, fault detection, quality control The image shows a vial of gold nanoparticles in solution on the left. In the background on the right are the shredded plastic-containing gold nanoparticles (maroon in color) and pure PLA (white) used to extrude the filament for 3D printing. The gold nanoparticle-functionalized filament is in the foreground. Researchers used the filament to 3D print the Vanderbilt logos. In the background is the "filabot" extrusion system used to manufacture the filament itself. (Image source: Vanderbilt University) In particular, research is being conducted on multiple fronts to establish and outline metrics for AM processes and the resulting parts and materials that are created. One of the first steps in this process is ensuring that 3D-printed parts are manufactured exactly as they were designed and ensuring that there are no material defects in the final product that could lead to failure. By establishing quality assurance and control metrics throughout the manufacturing process, researchers can speed the adoption of AM across multiple industries and even enable new applications.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a non-destructive testing method for 3D printed parts that uses gold nanoparticles to visually identify defects, such as missing print layers that occur during the manufacturing process. These defects might be caused by a clogged print nozzle, poor material extrusion, or other factors. If the flaws remain undetected, they can reduce the overall strength and performance of as-printed parts and materials and result in premature material failure. What’s revolutionary about the new process is that the means of uncovering flaws is essentially embedded within the material itself.

Read the full article at Design News.