Spring 2020

2D testing for 3D printing technology

James Fisher NDT (JFNDT)  has been working closely with Airbus to develop a certified 2D radiographic testing service for new parts created through 3D printing technology, as a robust and assured alternative for quality control for these components. This makes it the only testing house in the UK with approval to perform this important service.

‘As an approved supplier to Airbus, we were asked if we would take the necessary qualifications to carry out 2D radiography on additive manufactured (AM) components,’ explains Vikki Urwin, radiographer (level 3) at JFNDT. ‘Previously, these safety-critical parts would be tested for faults or defects by 3D CT scans, but 2D radiography (X-ray) is a far quicker and much more cost-effective process.’

JFNDT has had to go through a rigorous approval process with Airbus to prove the film and digital X-ray systems are effective at identifying microscopic defects (such as inclusions, lack of fusion, gas entrapment or shrinkage) smaller than 1mm in size, in the metal components.

AM, also known as 3D printing, uses computer aided design to build objects layer by layer. It offers huge cost and sophistication advantages over traditional methods of manufacture and is being increasingly widely used in industries such as aerospace, medicine, and automotive industries. The value of a shortened development cycle and a more efficient process means that products can be created more quickly than ever before, and design changes can be incorporated more easily.

Although big companies such as Airbus will routinely use 3D CT scans to test prototype parts before manufacture, there is now confidence that JFNDT’s 2D scanners offer a robust and assured alternative for subsequent quality checks. As the only testing house in the UK in a position to conduct such intricate 2D scanning, JFNDT is now in a strong position to take on similar work from other big manufacturing companies.

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