Author: Patricia M. Knighten
Company: Vibrant Corporation
Phone: (505) 918-5974
Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques have advanced dramatically in recent years and can solve the Department of Defense (DoD) maintenance and material readiness challenges of diminishing supply sources, part obsolescence, and service life extensions, while reducing operating costs of aging platforms. Before the potential can be realized, however, tools and technologies for qualifying AM components, processes and materials are needed to ensure that AM components are fit for service.
Process Compensated Resonance Testing (PCRT) is a potent tool for process qualification, monitoring and control, and supplier evaluation for AM components. It is a unique, non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technology that is a fast, accurate, full-body means of evaluating structural integrity and micro-structural variations in metallic, ceramic, and some composite parts. PCRT is at the forefront of NDE and process monitoring development for AM applications. A report by America Makes–National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute identified PCRT as one of only two methods that can screen geometrically complex parts with 100% coverage.
PCRT was proven in the NDE of engine components, landing gears and wheels, and in process monitoring of cast, forged and machined components for the aerospace and automotive industries. These solutions provide the data needed to prove confidence in AM components. Emerging PCRT studies of AM parts show detection of porosity-related defects, powder supply variation, process variation, retained powder and correlation to performance testing.
PCRT also has unique advantages in low volume applications, supporting the reverse engineering of legacy components for which no supply is available. In these applications, PCRT can confirm that the built component precisely matches the model, and the replacement part matches the legacy component.
PCRT currently stands at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 for AM applications. In its AM IR&D and commercial projects, Vibrant has performed PCRT evaluations with prototype systems in relevant manufacturing environments. Since 2010, when FAA approved PCRT for the testing of a jet engine turbine blade and the ASTM Standard Practice for PCRT was published, Vibrant has proven its ability to advance PCRT technologies from TRL 6 to TRL 9, with fielded and fully operational PCRT inspection systems in just weeks or months.
PCRT systems are production/maintenance-line ready and can be integrated with parts-handling automation. The systems are configurable to a broad variety of part geometries, and provide Pass/Fail results in seconds, without highly trained inspectors or operators.
PCRT assures part quality at every state, from verifying that the part built is the part designed, in order to track the consistency of every part produced. PCRT provides a fast, inexpensive, and effective NDE method that correlates to component material properties and defects, enabling the qualification of end-use AM components.