How Computed Tomography (CT) Scanning is Proving to be an Invaluable Asset for 3D Printed Components

The 3D printing industry has grown exponentially after the technology’s disruptive potential became known. With several avenues now making it possible to 3D print parts and components easily, the scope for this industry has only widened. However, like most other great technologies, 3D printing too relies on the use of ancillary technologies to attain enhanced efficiency. In the context of additive manufacturing, computed tomography (CT) fills this void perfectly. CT scans have already made a mark in the healthcare sector and now, the technology is about the help the additive manufacturing industry reach new heights.

On the global level, the demand for CT scanning has witnessed a dramatic increase, leading to the creation of a billion-dollar market. As the technology proves itself useful in new and emerging areas, its market will only grow further. According to a study by Transparency Market Research, the global computed tomography (CT) market is expected to stand at US$5.6 bn by 2017, rising in value from US$4.3 bn in 2011. At a CAGR of 4.5% between 2011 and 2017, the market is projected to expand robustly across the world.

From NASA to the Commercial Market – A Momentous Journey for CT-validated 3D-printed Parts

It’s not entirely unknown that NASA has been an early proponent of 3D printing with engineers at the space agency using additive manufacturing to cut down costs of designing spacecraft parts. But what’s probably not as widely known is that the space agency relied heavily on the use of computed tomography (CT) to validate the precision and strength of these 3D-printed parts.

By turning to the use of CT scanning, engineers at NASA were able to gain a better look at the internal characteristics of 3D-printed parts. These renditions were available to them in full 3D, giving them confidence to deploy 3D-printed parts in mission critical applications. Combined with other conventional tests, CT scanning can ensure the production of failsafe components – a realization that’s motivating many industrial facilities to use this successful combination.

The Many Advantages of Using CT Scanning to Validate 3D Parts

The use of CT scanning presents a bevy of benefits to manufacturing processes, especially since it is a non-destructive inspection method. Non-destructive and non-invasive testing is much sought after in building structures, pressure vessels, transportation, piping, and hoisting equipment.

In the 3D printing industry, the use of computed tomography scanning is helping manufacturers save considerable time and money by spotting errors early on in the design and manufacturing phases.

Here are five benefits of using computed tomography scanning for 3D printed parts:
  • Voids or inclusions present inside a 3D-printed part can be instantly detected
  • A comparison between the ready component and the CAD model can help spot incongruities
  • Comparison between two parts from the same or different manufacturing batches helps in maintaining consistent output quality
  • Checking the thickness of walls using CT scanning, especially in products such as autoclaves, can help engineers detect weak spots
  • Where an existing 3D manufactured component is available, it can be reverse engineered into a CAD file using CT scanning
Keeping these factors in view, engineers are increasingly looking at computed tomography as an able ally of 3D printing.

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