Software improves consistency in additive manufacturing

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

Renishaw has developed and released InfiniAM Spectral, a process monitoring software that is said to allow additive manufacturing (AM) users a greater understanding of their processes and help manufacturers overcome the barriers to AM in critical applications, process stability and part quality.

Laser powder-bed fusion (LPBF) builds components from millions of laser exposures. This process must be highly accurate to produce a functional part. However, there are sources of variation that can occur during the build process, which can produce anomalies that impact the part’s longevity. Real-time spectral monitoring technology enables manufacturers to gather melt-pool data to enable traceable production and process optimisation.

“For additive manufacturing to become a truly ubiquitous manufacturing technology, users and practitioners require a deep understanding of the process,” explained Robin Weston, marketing manager at Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division. “The software will be hugely beneficial to manufacturers looking to achieve consistent processing with AM.”

InfiniAM Spectral offers two measurement functions in the sensor modules. The first module, LaserVIEW, uses a photosensitive diode to measure the intensity of the laser energy. The second, MeltVIEW, captures emissions from the melt pool in the near-infrared and infrared spectral ranges. Renishaw says these two sensor signals can be compared to help identify discrepancies.

MeltVIEW and LaserVIEW stream data across a conventional computer network on a layer-by-layer basis, so manufacturers can analyse process monitoring data in real-time. As the build progresses, the data is rendered live in 3D for viewing in InfiniAM Spectral. Engineers can compare the data from each sensor to identify any deviations, which may indicate the presence of anomalies that could lead to defects.

“The amount of process data generated during an AM build is immense, which means it can be difficult to make practical use of it without the correct interpretation tools,” continued Weston. “InfiniAM Spectral enables manufacturers to easily interpret data and gain a more detailed understanding of their AM processes. Access to real-time data opens the door to future developments in process control – detecting and correcting problems in real-time.”

InfiniAM Spectral will be an asset to those producing a series of identical parts in high-value applications. When producing the first part in a series, data from LaserVIEW and MeltVIEW can be compared with existing X-Ray or Computed Tomography data from a known good part. The manufacturer can use this data and can compare it against data from subsequent parts to judge quality and consistency.

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