Two UA researchers are monitoring the quality of 3-D parts printed for NASA

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Two researchers from the University of Arizona are using NASA funding to monitor and reduce defects in the 3-D printing of rocket and jet-engine parts. Mohammed Shafae and Andrew Wessman shared more on their research.

The idea of utilizing 3D printing to create parts for jet engines is a new one.

“This is really a new technology that’s been around since about 2015, or 2016. It involves using a fine metal powder that we spread over a built platform and then we’ll melt that powder with a laser to form a part and in fact where that laser goes, according to a digital file, it describes the geometry of that part,” Wessman said.

Wessman continued that, “we can spread these layers one by one and build up that part with 3-dimensions by just making these layers different geometries and build that up vertically.”

This method allows to create intricate parts and designs using this method and it also reduces waste because there isn’t extra to machine-off.

Wessman shares that although it’s great manufacturing, they want to ensure the quality of the things that come out of this technology to be used safely in application.

“For jet engines, it’s a whole different ball game, it’s qualification of these parts so that we can put them on a jet engine that flies for thousands of miles and want to make sure that this doesn’t fail..in air or something like that. So, you gotta make sure that every single part you’re shipping out of the production facility to be on a jet engine, is qualified to run for several thousands of hours,” Shafae said.

He mentioned that this process of monitoring is important for these complicated parts.

Mohammed Shafae, UArizona Systems and Industrial Engineering
Andrew Wessman UArizona Materials Science and Engineering

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