Machines are like people. No one is perfect. They cannot hold your exact dimensions forever. So, designers get into tolerancing to define an acceptable level of variation to fabricate parts that are usable for their intended purpose. But makers still have to qualify finished parts, and qualifying 3D printed parts can be a drag. Once you fling a file at a 3D printer, you can’t be sure tolerances held until you can measure and verify the finished part. Markforged is working on a better way.
- Details tolerancing and the difficulties qualifying 3D printed parts.
- Describes the Mark X 3D printer’s in-process inspection system.
- Outlines how the inspection hardware and software operate.
- Explains how in-process inspection can improve 3D part quality and save time and money.
The operative words are “how you inspect a 3D part.” Humans are still in the loop, but the Mark X has a couple of technologies designed to help loopy humans inspect 3D parts during the build. This paper describes the hardware and software involved. It will be of immense value to current Mark X users and one hefty “did you know this?” for you tire kickers.
Key to the in-process inspection hardware is a printhead-mounted laser displacement sensor. It has 50 micron (diameter) scanning resolution. But it’s the company’s cloud-based Eiger 3D print software with the smarts interpreting sensor data that makes in-process inspection happen.
Basically, you use Eiger to define your tolerance specifications. The Mark X’s laser scans your part during printing. If it detects a non-Eiger sanctioned variance, Eiger lets you know. You then decide what to do – nix the print, blame the new hire or whatever. The upshot is that you can stop and fix problems in-process. That’s bound to save time, reduce scrap material and minimize late-stage rework.
“In-Process Inspection: Improving 3D Printed Parts” also a has a nice little sidebar on adaptive bed leveling, which plays a role here. Brief and nicely illustrated, this paper is well worth your inspection. Hit today’s Check it Out link to download your copy.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, DE