Industry 4.0 automation ensures quality in 3D printing

The inline quality control system can be attached easily and flexibly to the outside of the printer. Source: © Photo Fraunhofer IPA, Rainer Bez

The genuine hope for Industry 4.0 is pinned on 3D-printed parts, but there are still no quality standards in place for additive manufacturing. Fraunhofer IPA has developed an automated system that enables quality to be automatically checked during printing. Industry partners can test and further develop “IQ4AP” straight away.

3D printing can manufacture customized parts with complex geometrical designs and integrated functionalities. 3D printing is the only production process that is controlled completely digitally.

With IQ4AP, Fraunhofer IPA has developed a system that automatically checks quality in 3D printing inline – i.e. during printing. The application is based on a black box with a camera, lighting and ventilation. Machine vision is the key technology.

The researchers created the framework of the Application Center Industries 4.0, using adaptable process-integrated sensor measuring technology in selective laser sintering (SLS) as an example. The design is practical in that it is independent of any machine and so can be attached to any 3D printer.