A Study on the Use of XCT and FEA to Predict the Elastic Behavior of Additively Manufactured Parts of Cylindrical Geometry

Authors: F. Esposito · A. Gatto · E. Bassoli · L. Denti

This scientific article has been realized in cooperation with UNIMORE - University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
The related research project has been developed almost entirely within the TEC Eurolab laboratories, with a particular focus on the interaction between Industrial Computerized Tomography and Finite Element Analysis with the support of experimental tests such as chemical analysis, tensile tests, ultrasound, etc..

A Study on the Use of XCT and FEA to Predict the Elastic Behavior of Additively Manufactured Parts of Cylindrical Geometry


Defining general criteria for the acceptability of defects within industrial components is often complicated, since the specific load conditions and the criticality of the given application should be considered individually. In order to minimize the risk of failure, high safety factors are commonly adopted during quality control. However this practice is likely to cause the rejection of components whose defects would be instead acceptable if a more sound knowledge of the component behaviour were achieved. Parts produced by additive manufacturing (AM) may suffer from various defects, including micro- or macro-holes, delamination and microstructural discontinuities. Such processes, which are specially suitable for one-off components, require robust and reliable inspection before a part is accepted or rejected, since the refusal of even a single part at the end of the production process represents a significant loss. For this reason, it would be very useful to simulate in a reliable way whether a certain defect is truly detrimental to the proper working of the part during operation or whether the component can still be used, despite the presence of a defect. To this purpose, the paper highlights the benefits of a synergistic interaction between Industrial X-ray computed tomography (ICT) and finite element analysis (FEA). Internal defects of additively manufactured parts can be identified in a non-destructive way by means of XCT. Then FEA can be performed on the ICT-based virtual model of the real component, rather than on the ideal CAD geometry. A proof of concept of this approach is proposed here for a reference construct produced in an Aluminium alloy by AM. Numerical results of the proposed combined ICT–FEA procedure are contrasted with experimental data from tensile tests. The findings sustain the reliability of the method and allow to assess its full provisional accuracy for parts of cylindrical geometry designed to operate in the elastic field. The paper moves a step beyond the present application limits of tomography as it is currently employed for AM parts and it evidences instead the possibility of extending the usage of tomography to acceptance testing and prediction of operative behaviour.

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