Ensuring quality in the additive manufacturing process is essential for ensuring your customers are satisfied with your 3D printed products. Ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations and adopting sustainable manufacturing practices are equally important as maintaining high-quality standards for the end product. For many industries including the aerospace and automotive industries quality assurance is essential for health and safety and requires consistent fulfilment of the highest quality.  As experts in recruitment in additive and advanced manufacturing recruitment, this guide sets out how quality control is managed in 3D printing.

Location Matters

When assessing the quality of materials, environmental impact is just as important as their performance. Historically in manufacturing, companies have generally adopted offshore production operations to reduce costs. However, this has a negative impact on both the environmental impact of production and the level of control over quality assurance.

When looking at the recyclability of the 3D printing material, it’s important to look at both the filament and the spool. Companies like Filamentive offer recycling services for 3D printing spools.

Reshoring or nearshoring manufacturing operations can reduce transportation distances and the carbon emissions associated with it. With closer proximity to manufacturing operations, companies practicing onshoring can exercise greater control over quality control processes. This can lead to faster feedback loops and easier collaboration between design, engineering and manufacturing teams. Essentially streamlining quality control processes.

Control of Quality Materials in 3D Printing

One of the key elements in ensuring quality assurance in additive manufacturing is choosing quality materials. When printing for industrial projects there are a number of stringent requirements manufacturers need to be aware of in regard to environmental and safety regulations. Increasingly, technological advances in the advanced manufacturing industry has allowed manufacturers to make the quality assurance process for materials much more streamlined, thanks to automation and machine learning.

Consider Material Performance

Depending on the purpose of the 3D printed components you may want to choose a printing material that offers high mechanical strength and durability. For example, materials used in aerospace will need to be resistant to both high and low temperatures and UV exposure.

Some materials that offer high mechanical strength include;

  • Metal Alloys
  • Carbon Fiber Composites
  • Polyether Ether Ketone
  • Polyimide
  • Ultem
  • Polypropylene
  • Ceramic-based materials

Thorough testing and validation are needed to determine which material will meet your requirements. Machine learning can significantly enhance the testing of material performance through data collection and analysis.

Consider Industry and Manufacturing Compliance

Any materials used in the additive manufacturing process will need to be verified through testing and certification. Manufacturers should provide material specifications and testing data to guarantee the product’s quality and performance. This will include the performance of the material for different properties such as strength, durability, heat resistance and dimensional accuracy.  

Consider Chemical and Environmental Factors

Testing should show how materials react to different chemical or environmental factors such as resistance to different chemicals or solvents. Data modelling can be used to check how humidity, temperature fluctuations or UV exposure affect the 3D printed materials.

Consider Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance will be different for each specific industry and manufacturing application. Some of key regulations could include FDA approval, which is needed for medical or food applications in the US. Or, Product safety certification to verify the safety of a product such as ISO13485 for medical devices.

Control of quality and maintenance of 3D printers

The proper maintenance of 3D printers is essential for producing high-quality products. Regular servicing will not only ensure your machine is running efficiently but also keeps your product free from contaminants. This process can be enhanced through the development of automation and machine learning.

Calibration

To maintain high-quality prints regular calibration is essential. This can involve verifying and adjusting various parameters such as the number of steps per millimeter and nozzle alignment. Regular calibration results in more consistent printing. With the advancement of IoT, calibration becomes a much more automatic process. For example, real time monitoring can send data on various parameters like temperature, humidity, machine performance or material flow and allows users to predict when the printer needs calibration reducing downtime.

Print Parameters Optimization

Fine-tuning print parameters such as layer height and print speed can impact the quality of 3D prints. Users can take advantage of data collected through advanced manufacturing to calculate the most effective print parameters.

Regular Cleaning

Keeping print beds, nozzles and other printer components that come into contact with the printed object clean not only improves print quality, it extends the lifespan of the printer components and keeps your machine free from clogs. Advanced manufacturing technologies can inform users of the most optimal time to remove dust, debris and material build up, reducing the risk of downtime.

How can Alexander Daniels Global Help?

Here at Alexander Daniels Global, we conduct direct sourcing through targeted headhunting to access inactive candidates alongside our database and extensive network of active candidates. To put it simply, your additive and advanced recruitment needs can be seamlessly handled by our specialist team – putting the right candidates in front of you when you need them most.

Alternatively, if you’re working in the additive or advanced manufacturing industry, browse our career portal to apply for our varied open job vacancies.

For more information about how we can help, contact our team of expert recruiters today. We also have a wealth of HR resources, such as our annual salary survey to help you stay on top of hiring trends.

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