Home Research & Education New sensor controls for 3D-printed products could transform the manufacturing sector

New sensor controls for 3D-printed products could transform the manufacturing sector

In a study published in the journal Waves in Random and Complex Media, researchers at the University of Bristol have derived a formula that can be used to determine the design limits for the geometry and material microstructure of a particular component. The work also makes use of 3D printing.

The key factor is the use of ultrasound-based array sensors, similar to those used in medical imaging, but in a new, laser-based form that does not require contact with the material.

Author Professor Anthony Mulholland, head of the School of Engineering Maths and Technology, explained: “There is a potential sensing method using a laser based ultrasonic array and we are using mathematical modelling to inform the design of the this equipment ahead of its in situ deployment.”

The researchers now plan to use their findings to facilitate the design and construction of laser-based ultrasonic arrays for future projects. These sensors will then be used by robots in a controlled additive manufacturing environment. They will maximize the information content of the data generated by the sensors and create bespoke imaging algorithms to produce tomographic images of the inside of components.

Professor Mullholland added: “We can then work with our industry partners to produce a means of assessing the mechanical integrity of these safety critical components at the manufacturing stage. This could then lead to radically new designs (by taking full advantage of 3D printing), quicker and more cost effective production processes, and significant commercial and economic advantage to UK manufacturing.”

The results of this research could therefore not only speed up production, but also lead to radically new designs and more cost-effective production processes.

Professor Mullholland concluded: “Opening up 3D printing in the manufacture of safety critical components, such as those found in the aerospace industry, would provide significant commercial advantage to UK industry. The lack of a means of assessing the mechanical integrity of such components is the major blockage in taking this exciting opportunity forward.  This study has built a mathematical model that simulates the use of a new laser based sensor, that could provide the solution to this problem, and this study will accelerate the sensor’s design and deployment.”oyment.”

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