ZEISS AM in-process, an advanced Powder-Bed Analysis solution that could move metal AM beyond R&D and prototypes

Driving industrialization with Additive Manufacturing is a long journey where every step counts. Some players in the field decide to focus that journey on the pre-manufacturing stage, while others like to focus on the printing and post-manufacturing processes. All have legitimate reasons.

Manufacturer of optical systems and optoelectronics ZEISS and EOS, a supplier for responsible manufacturing solutions via industrial 3D printing technology, have joined forces to address issues that may happen during and after the printing process.

Together, they have developed an advanced in-process and post-print powder bed analysis solution. Named ZEISS AM in-process, the solution is based on a patented technology from ZEISS, that enables all features of the powder bed to be captured with high precision for thorough, reliable analysis layer-by-layer and evaluation of the entire print job.

This provides a performant in-situ-proof of powder bed quality via images and defect statistics instead of after build testing of parts. ZEISS AM in-process offers rapid defect detection and classification with an ultra-high resolution per pixel. A reliable revealing of irregularities in powder bed, even with strongly reflecting materials, is ensured by combining four illumination directions.

The classification allows both preventive and corrective measures to be implemented for specific powder bed defects. Thus, faulty jobs can be stopped early to save productive machine time and allow for an improved usage of material.

Powder shortages can be even corrected as they arise due to a communication interface which enables automatic recoating on the build plate. As part of the cooperation, ZEISS AM in-process will be integrated into EOS DMLS systems.

“To make metal AM a feasible and scalable manufacturing technology industrial grade quality and economic feasibility must be further improved and ensured at the same time. For the certification and quality assurance processes, this requires the development of new quality assurance solutions in accordance with the AM-specific conditions. To enable technical and economic feasibility of future-oriented applications, ZEISS AM in-process contributes to making the technical possibilities of additive manufacturing realizable while defining and continuously ensuring required quality standards”, Dr. Claus Hermannstädter, Head of Additive Manufacturing Technology at ZEISS.

On another note, Mirco Schöpf, Product Line Manager Software at EOS notes:  “The automated analysis of the powder bed quality and the quick reaction to identify defects opens immense potential for cost savings of up to 10,000 Euros per build job. At the same time, this is in line with our responsible manufacturing approach as these feedback loops can help to substantially reduce scrap rates and material waste.”

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