How to Validate 3D Printing Gas Flows

May 3, 2021 | Posted By: Jan Fischer
3D printing uses laser-based powder bed fusion of metals (PBF-LB/M)
3D Printing where a laser is used to melt and fuse metallic powders together, layer by layer, to build a three-dimensional object.

3D Printing Gas Flows Validation with Multipoint Air Velocity Measurement

Laser beam is a type of powder bed fusion found in additive manufacturing (AM) processes that form parts through adding material, rather than subtracting it. Industrial metal 3D printers use laser-based powder bed fusion of metals (PBF-LB/M), where a laser is used to melt and fuse metallic powders together, layer by layer, to build a three-dimensional object. The laser melting process takes place in a chamber where the powder bed is blanketed with an inert gas such as argon or nitrogen to protect the atmosphere and preserve metal quality.  (Note:  ISO/ASTM 52911-1 specifies features of laser-based powder bed fusion of metals.)

Gas flow is a consequential process parameter in metal additive manufacturing and the production of good quality parts.  The industry relies on multipoint data acquisition systems (DAQ) from Degree Controls to characterize 3D printing gas flow as part of printer calibrations as well as in-the-field maintenance processes. Our instrumentation systems are convenient, easy to use, and save significant time as compared to the single point measurement approach:  
  • Modular arrays of sensors measure air velocity and temperature simultaneously within build chambers of laser AM machines.
  • Airflow sensors have a convenient USB output and plug directly into °C Port data acquisition instruments.
  • Measurement data is aggregated with Windows®-based AccuTrac™ software installed on a PC.
  • The °C Port1200 provides 12 sensor input channels, and as many as 36 sensors may be connected to a °C Port3600. Multiple °C Ports may be networked together to obtain up to 180 data points.
  • °C Ports feature an Ethernet or dual-band Wi-Fi interface to communicate to your AccuTrac™ PC.
  • AccuTrac™ software displays and analyzes measurement results in real-time. The contour plots are invaluable in investigating the response and operation of metal 3D printing systems.
3D printing gas flows measured with multipoint air velocity and temperature sensors.
Analysis of 3D printing gas flows as part of calibrating printers as well as in-the-field maintenance processes.

Enjoy the benefits of our plug and play multipoint sensing & instrumentation systems, and work with °C Port instruments, USB airflow sensors, and AccuTrac™ software to measure 3D printing gas flows.

About the Author

Jan Fischer

Having joined DegreeC in 2009, Jan has over a decade of experience consulting professionals in a wide range of industries on methods for using airflow sensors and instrumentation to collect data for testing and analysis.

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