The goal of this work is to quantify the link between the design features (geometry), in-situ process sensor signatures, and build quality of parts made using laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) additive manufacturing (AM) process. This knowledge is critical for establishing design rules for AM parts, and to detecting impending build failures using in-process sensor data. As a step towards this goal, the objectives of this work are two-fold:
1) Quantify the effect of the geometry and orientation on the build quality of thin-wall features. To explain further, the geometry-related factor is the ratio of the length of a thin-wall (l) to its thickness (t) defined as the aspect ratio (length-to-thickness ratio, l/t), and the angular orientation (θ) of the part, which is defined as the angle of the part in the X-Y plane relative to the re-coater blade of the LPBF machine.
2) Assess the thin-wall build quality by analyzing images of the part obtained at each layer from an in-situ optical camera using a convolutional neural network.
To realize these objectives, we designed a test part with a set of thin-wall features (fins) with varying aspect ratio from Titanium alloy (Ti-6Al-4V) material — the aspect ratio l/t of the thin-walls ranges from 36 to 183 (11 mm long (constant), and 0.06 mm to 0.3 mm in thickness). These thin-wall test parts were built under three angular orientations of 0°, 60°, and 90°. Further, the parts were examined offline using X-ray computed tomography (XCT). Through the offline XCT data, the build quality of the thin-wall features in terms of their geometric integrity is quantified as a function of the aspect ratio and orientation angle, which suggests a set of design guidelines for building thin-wall structures with LPBF. To monitor the quality of the thin-wall, in-process images of the top surface of the powder bed were acquired at each layer during the build process. The optical images are correlated with the post build quantitative measurements of the thin-wall through a deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN). The statistical correlation (Pearson coefficient, ρ) between the offline XCT measured thin-wall quality, and CNN predicted measurement ranges from 80% to 98%. Consequently, the impending poor quality of a thin-wall is captured from in-situ process data.