Proposed Standard Would Ensure Metal AM Quality
Kyle Maxey posted on September 04, 2014 |

Over the past few years metal additive manufacturing has come into its own. With industrial and technological giants like GE, Airbus and NASA leveraging the process’ ability to create complex parts, it is more vital than ever that metal AM adopt quality standards.

According to ASTM International, metal AM manufacturers may soon have a series of protocols meant to standardize the operation and production of powder bed fusion machines. Called the “Practice for Metal Powder Bed Fusion to Meet Rigid Quality Requirements” (WK46188), the new standard will be applicable to all technologies that use a laser to create parts from metal powder including Electron Beam Melting, Selective Laser Sintering, Direct Metal Laser Sintering and Selective Laser Melting.

If ratified, the new ASTM standard would be a benchmark that metal AM system manufacturers could use to give their machines added value. By ensuring that every part that’s produced by a metal AM system is fit for both prototype and end-use production metal AM makers can give their customers confidence that they’re investing in a mature technology. 

“Additive manufacturing is based on the capabilities of the machines used in the process,” says Shane Collins, ASTM member and WK46188 lead. “The machines have been historically designed for the rapid prototyping industry, and we are taking those same machines and now asking them to make safety critical components. WK46188 will illustrate what the critical parameters for successful powder bed fusion are, how to determine the upper and lower limits of the process and ensure all components are exactly the same.”

Aside from metal AM manufacturers, service bureaus and in-house AM shops that use metal AM systems will also see added value as best-practices surrounding shop setup could be a critical component of the new standards.

While a more rigorous set of standards will need to be developed as metal AM continues to mature, ASTM’s WK46188 is a big step in the right direction. Along with creating a more guided approach to metal AM system manufacturing and use, new standards will likely boost business by giving investors confidence in the metal 3D printing industry as a whole.

Source: ASTM

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