Theta Technologies’ development of a nonlinear acoustic non-destructive testing method looks set to become a game-changer for additive manufacturers looking to push the boundaries of geometric design. With Theta’s nonlinear resonance NDT becoming a topic of discussion within the additive manufacturing community, 3dpbm helped to spot and enable the perfect opportunity to put RD1-TT’s credentials to the test and initiated a collaborative project between Theta Technologies and 3D design specialists Puntozero.
Over recent years, the adoption of metal additive manufacturing for end-user parts, particularly for critical applications has been somewhat restricted due to the limitations of existing NDT solutions. Enter RD1-TT; Theta’s brand-new NDT technology that has been specifically designed to offer those frustrated 3D printing designers a chance to show the world what they are truly capable of.
The complex geometries available with additive manufacturing is unquestionably one of the most appealing factors when looking to introduce 3D printing into any production workflow, but the reality is that the majority of non-destructive testing solutions available simply cannot provide detailed enough tests for parts intended for use within critical applications.
Puntozero is an innovative 2022 start-up with the goal of creating specific design methodologies for additive manufacturing. The company seeks to move away from traditional design constraints and fully realize the potential of AM by exploiting the concepts of generative design, Topology Optimisation, Implicit Modelling and Lattice Structures. Co-founder of Puntozero, Francesco Leonardi states that “Behind every shape, there is a function, and we often tend to connect them in a reciprocal and direct link, but it is extremely clear in this component how the shapes must evolve according to materials, technologies and printing parameters.”.
Puntozero’s recent work with 3D printing metal powder manufacturers m4p material solutions Gmbh on the production of valves provided an ideal opportunity to put Theta’s nonlinear resonance technology to the test. Metal powder manufacturer m4p material solutions Gmbh prides itself on the development, manufacturing, refining and selling of metal powders for an array of 3D printing processes. They provide a key connection between powder metallurgy and additive manufacturing with a key focus on what their customers require.
The valves, designed by Puntozero that were to be the subject of the non-destructive test were printed using m4p material solutions’ in-house printers and featured multiple complex design features; something that a nonlinear resonance test is unaffected by.
As part of the process, Theta Technologies were provided with two 3D printed metal valves, both of which had previously been tested using dye penetrant and visual inspection non-destructive testing methods. Both samples were tested using RD1-TT; a machine that can not only cope with the complex design geometries associated with 3D printed materials but can also conduct an entire test of a single component in under one minute.
The RD1-TT is an ideal solution for deployment as a rapid triaging technique or for those looking to utilize AM for mass manufacturing. A nonlinear resonance test is undertaken by exciting a component in order to generate a linear response. If a part is flaw-free, there will be no change in the response received by the detector once the excitation of the part is increased. If a part is flawed however, there will be clear signs of nonlinearity when that same signal is increased. After the rapid tests of the valves were performed, it was immediately apparent that one of the parts was flawed due to a significant differentiation in response. Using a nonlinear damage metric, there were clear discriminations between the two components across all six batches of reproducibility testing.
James Watts, the Chief Technical officer at Theta Technologies, was thrilled at the results of the test. “These latest results are yet more evidence for the effectiveness of our nonlinear resonance NDT technique. Once again our RD1-TT product has detected flaws that, because of the complex shape of these parts, would be invisible to conventional techniques. It is great to see creative designs like this realised in practice, and our technique should help AM manufacturers deliver the benefits of AM even for demanding applications.”
Read the entire story and the latest Theta Technologies case study with BAE here.