3D Printing Processes3D VisualizationAdditive ManufacturingInspection/NDTPost-Processing

Conflux uses Synchrotron particle accelerator for NDT of AM parts

Using the Australian particle accelerator to reveal the sub-macroscopic composition of 3D printed heat exchangers

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Conflux Technology uses the Australian Synchrotron, which is operated by ANSTO, as part of its advanced development process for metal 3D printed heat exchangers. It’s certainly a unique tool for NDT in any R&D workflow.

Over the years, the Australian company has shown that using additive manufacturing to build heat exchangers has significant geometrical advantages, that cannot be achieved with brazing or subtractive manufacturing processes. However, AM also brings new challenges to overcome. For example, identifying possible failures in thin walls can be hard with complex internal geometry in a monolithic component. The Synchrotron allows Conflux to see anomalies hidden inside completed parts by way of (incredibly advanced) CT (computer tomography) scanning.

The Australian Synchrotron (located in Clayton, Victoria) uses electrons to produce intense beams of light more than a million times brighter than the sun. Traveling at about 299,792kms (186,282mps), which is practically the speed of light, the Synchrotron applies magnetic fields to ‘synchronize’ and force these high energy electrons into a circular orbit. The perturbation of these electrons results in an intense beam of x-rays that can be harnessed to investigate our heat exchangers on a sub-macroscopic level.

Conflux uses Synchrotron particle accelerator for NDT of 3D printed heat exchangers, to reveal the sub-macroscopic composition

With the scale and resolution, this gives, Conflux’s inspection capability is vastly increased. The process of sorting through up to a terabyte of cross-section data is considerable. To handle this kind of data is why CDs and even the Internet protocols were invented at CERN, the European accelerator. Conflux has developed a proprietary analysis software called Conflux Quantify to analyze wall thickness, surface roughness and feature distances. It also allows detection and identification of any structural anomalies much quicker than a manual review process.

In a video published on LinkedIn, Conflux shows circular images that represent a cross-section of two micro tubes – one is built using “standard” parameters, the second using Conflux’s custom parameters. It is possible to note the increase in density and improved form resolution of the Conflux part. The Conflux custom parameters improve part performance outcomes through improved density and consistent form quality.

Using the Synchrotron in this process allows Conflux engineers to verify the outcomes of custom parameter development as well as inspect for critical defects. The end result is improved performance, increased part quality and reduced development times.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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