(19)
(11)EP 3 763 446 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
13.01.2021 Bulletin 2021/02

(21)Application number: 20185536.8

(22)Date of filing:  13.07.2020
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B06B 1/06(2006.01)
G01H 11/08(2006.01)
B29C 64/35(2017.01)
G01N 3/38(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 12.07.2019 US 201916510180

(71)Applicant: Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation
Charlotte, NC 28217-4578 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • FENNESSY, Colette O.
    West Hartford, CT Connecticut 06107 (US)
  • REYNOLDS, Shawn Karl
    Byron, IL Illinois 61010 (US)

(74)Representative: Dehns 
St. Bride's House 10 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8JD
London EC4Y 8JD (GB)

 
Remarks:
Missing drawings filed in accordance with Rule 56(2) / (3) EPC.
 


(54)POWDER MONITORING


(57) A method including filling an internal passage (201) of an additively manufactured (AM) article (200) with a state change fluid (205), causing the state change fluid to change from a first state having a first viscosity to a second state that is either solid or has a second viscosity that is higher than the first viscosity within the internal passage, causing the state change fluid to change back from the second state to the first state, removing residual powder from the additively manufactured article by flushing the state change fluid from the internal passage, measuring electrical impedance of a piezoelectric wafer connected to the additively manufactured article, and determining that more than a threshold amount of residual powder remains within the AM article based on the measured electrical impendence of the additively manufactured article being outside of a selected range from an expected impendence value.




Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] This application is a Continuation in Part of U.S. Patent Application No. 14/924,046 filed October 27, 2015 (issued as U.S. Patent on 10,220,422) and U.S. Patent Application 16/292,173 filed March 5, 2019.

BACKGROUND


Field



[0002] The present disclosure relates to additive manufacturing methods and systems, more specifically to methods and systems for powder removal and inspection for additively manufactured articles.

Description of Related Art



[0003] Certain methods for additive manufacturing using powder beds (e.g., selective laser sintering) cause powder to be left within internal passages of the additively manufactured article. When components are made in the additive laser powder bed fusion process, residual entrapped powder can remain inside internal cavities and channels. After parts are built using the laser powder bed fusion additive machine, the components left on the build plate need to go through a post-powder removal process. Agitation or vibration methods can be used to remove unsintered powder from additive components. It is imperative that all the unsintered powder is removed from the channels before the components go onto the next steps of the process, specifically heat treatment. Traditionally, computed tomography (CT Scan) can be used to inspection effectiveness of powder removal, but the process is expensive, time consuming, and not necessarily accurate

[0004] Such conventional methods and systems have generally been considered satisfactory for their intended purpose. However, there is still a need in the art for a technique that can rapidly determine if a part has been completely depowdered following the powder removal process. The present disclosure provides a solution for this need.

SUMMARY



[0005] A method includes issuing a state change fluid into an internal passage of an additively manufactured article and causing the state change fluid to change from a first state having a first viscosity to a second state that is either solid or has a second viscosity that is higher than the first viscosity within the internal passage. The method can also include causing the state change fluid to change back from the second state to the first state and flushing the state change fluid from the internal passage to remove residual powder from the additively manufactured article.

[0006] The method can include applying vibration, such as ultrasonic vibration, to the additively manufactured article while the state change fluid is in the second state. Causing the state change fluid to change from the first state to the second state can include applying heat to the state change fluid. For example, the state change fluid can include poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) or any other suitable thermal-responsive polymer that becomes more viscous or solidifies with added heat.

[0007] Causing the state change fluid to change from the first state to the second state can include cooling the state change fluid. For example, the state change fluid can include an ionic liquid that is crystalline at room temperature and melts to freely flow above room temperature. In certain embodiments, the ionic liquid can include [bmim]NTf2. In such embodiments, the method can further include heating the ionic liquid to change the ionic liquid from the second state to the first state before inputting the ionic liquid into the internal passage.

[0008] Causing the state change fluid to change from the first state to the second state can include applying a pressure or force to the state change fluid. For example, the state change fluid can include a non-Newtonian fluid that becomes more viscous or rigid with applied kinetic energy.

[0009] Inputting the state change fluid can include applying a pressure to the state change fluid. Causing the state change fluid to change from the first state to the second state can include removing the applied pressure or reducing pressure to the state change fluid. For example, the state change fluid can include a non-Newtonian fluid that flows more freely with higher pressure (e.g., a clay suspension).

[0010] In accordance with at least one aspect of this disclosure, an additively manufactured article includes an internal passage, the internal passages being cleared of residual powder by any suitable portion or combination of portions of a method as described above.

[0011] These and other features of the systems and methods of the subject disclosure will become more readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0012] So that those skilled in the art to which the subject disclosure appertains will readily understand how to make and use the devices and methods of the subject disclosure without undue experimentation, embodiments thereof will be described in detail herein below with reference to certain figures, wherein:

Fig. 1 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method in accordance with this disclosure;

Fig. 2 is a cross-sectional elevation view of an embodiment of an additively manufactured article having an internal flow passage, showing a state change fluid flowing therethrough in a first state;

Fig. 3A is a cross-sectional elevation view of an the additively manufactured article of Fig. 2, showing the state change fluid converted to a substantially solid form in an embodiment of a second state in accordance with this disclosure; and

Fig. 3B is a cross-sectional elevation view of an the additively manufactured article of Fig. 2, showing the state change fluid converted to a more viscous state in another embodiment of a second state in accordance with this disclosure.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0013] Reference will now be made to the drawings wherein like reference numerals identify similar structural features or aspects of the subject disclosure. For purposes of explanation and illustration, and not limitation, an illustrative view of an embodiment of a method in accordance with the disclosure is shown in Fig. 1 and is designated generally by reference character 100. Other embodiments and/or aspects of this disclosure are shown in Figs. 2-3B. The systems and methods described herein can be used to remove residual powder from within internal passages of additively manufactured articles, for example.

[0014] Referring to Figs. 1 and 2-3B, a method 100 includes inputting (e.g., at block 101) a state change fluid 205 into an internal passage 201 of an additively manufactured article 200. The method 100 also includes causing (e.g., at block 103) the state change fluid 205 to change from a first state having a first viscosity (e.g., as shown in Fig. 2) to a second state that is either solid (e.g., as shown Fig. 3A) or has a second viscosity that is higher than the first viscosity (e.g., as shown in Fig. 3B) while the state change fluid 205 is within the internal passage 201.

[0015] The method 100 can also include causing (e.g., at block 105) the state change fluid 205 to change back from the second state (e.g., Fig. 3A and/or Fig. 3B) to the first state (e.g., Fig. 2). After converting back to the first state, the method 100 can include flushing (e.g., at block 107) the state change 205 fluid from the internal passage 201 to remove residual powder from the additively manufactured article 200.

[0016] Referring to Figs. 3A and 3B, the method 100 can include applying vibration 307 to the additively manufactured article 200 while the state change fluid 205 is in the second state. In certain embodiments, the vibration can be ultrasonic vibration. Any other suitable mode of vibration is contemplated herein and any type of transducer for vibration can be used to vibrate the additively manufactured article 200 and/or the state change fluid 205 within the internal passage 201.

[0017] In certain embodiments, causing the state change fluid 205 to change from the first state to the second state can include applying heat to the state change fluid 205. For example, the state change 205 fluid can include poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) or any other suitable thermal-responsive polymer that becomes more viscous and/or solidifies with added heat.

[0018] Causing the state change fluid to change 205 from the first state to the second state can include cooling the state change fluid 205. For example, the state change fluid 205 can include an ionic liquid that is crystalline at room temperature and melts to freely flow above room temperature. In certain embodiments, the ionic liquid can include [bmim]NTf2. In such embodiments, the method 100 can further include heating the ionic liquid to change the ionic liquid from the second state to the first state before inputting the ionic liquid into the internal passage 201.

[0019] In certain embodiments, causing the state change fluid 205 to change from the first state to the second state includes applying a pressure or force to the state change fluid 205. For example, the state change fluid 205 can include a non-Newtonian fluid that becomes more viscous and/or rigid with applied kinetic energy (e.g., cornstarch in water).

[0020] In certain embodiments, inputting the state change fluid 205 includes applying a pressure to the state change fluid 205. Causing the state change fluid 205 to change from the first state to the second state can include removing the applied pressure or reducing pressure to the state change fluid 205. For example, the state change fluid 205 can include a non-Newtonian fluid that flows more freely with higher pressure (e.g., a clay suspension).

[0021] In accordance with at least one aspect of this disclosure, an additively manufactured article 200 includes an internal passage 201, the internal passage 201 being cleared of residual powder by any suitable portion or combination of portions of a method 100 as described above.

[0022] Embodiments as described above allow for more effective powder removal than traditional methods and systems. Increasing the viscosity of a flushing fluid (e.g., the state change fluid 205) can allow the flushing to be more effective. For example, vibrating the article 200 after changing to a more viscous or solid state translates the vibration energy to powder particles that are stuck inside the internal passage. This increase as energy translation improves particle separation from the internal passage, thereby cleaning out the internal passage better without the need for corrosive or abrasive solutions, which can comprise the integrity of the article 200. This also allows for additive manufacturing design freedom not previously attainable with traditional techniques.

[0023] After the article 200 has been cleaned, the article is evaluated 109 using an impedance-based monitoring technique to determine if depowdering is complete. Piezoelectric impedance monitoring 109 is used to make non-destructive evaluation to validate that all the powder has been removed from the additive part. Piezoelectric impedance evaluation 109 is a fast and inexpensive method for evaluations of powder removal within the channels. The impedance-based monitoring system uses an impendence evaluator, such as piezoelectric wafers, as collocated sensors and actuators simultaneously excite the structure of interest and measure the response. The impedance measuring device is connected to the additive part. Once impedance measurements 109 have been acquired, the results are compared against an already verified "clean" additive part or with no residual powder left in channel. The presence of metal powder in the part will alter the damping characteristics and thus alter the measured dynamic response of the part. The expected results can be calculated based the material and material thickness or density, or the expected results can be based on a previously validated exemplary part. If the piezoelectric impedance is measured at a value outside the acceptable range, the build plate and components can go back for continued powder removal, rather than scrapping the parts. Previous methods required a percentage of parts to be destructively measured to prove that the lot of parts was able to be used in service. This method however is costly and does not positively prove that each part is completely free of powder.

[0024] The methods and of the present disclosure, as described above and shown in the drawings, provide for additively manufactured articles with superior properties including improved residual powder removal from internal passages therein, and ensuring that residual powder has been removed. While the apparatus and methods of the subject disclosure have been shown and described with reference to embodiments, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate changes and/or modifications may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the claims.


Claims

1. A method, comprising:

filling an internal passage (200) of an additively manufactured,AM, article (200) with a state change fluid (205); and

causing the state change fluid to change from a first state having a first viscosity to a second state that is either solid or has a second viscosity that is higher than the first viscosity within the internal passage;

causing the state change fluid to change back from the second state to the first state;

removing residual powder from the additively manufactured article by flushing the state change fluid from the internal passage;

measuring electrical impedance of a piezoelectric wafer connected to the additively manufactured article; and

determining that more than a threshold amount of residual powder remains within the AM article based on the measured electrical impendence of the additively manufactured article being outside of a selected range from an expected impendence value.


 
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising evaluating a dynamic response as compared to the expected value.
 
3. The method of claim 1 or 2, wherein the additively manufactured article, AM, is placed in service if the measured impedance of the additively manufactured article, AM, is within the acceptable range.
 
4. The method of any preceding claim, wherein the expected value is based on an electrical impedance of a clean part.
 
5. A method, comprising:

measuring electrical impendence of an article using an impendence evaluator;

comparing the measured electrical impendence of the article to an expected impendence value; and

removing residual powder from the article an internal passage of the article if the measured impendence of the additively manufactured article is outside of a selected threshold of the expected impendence value.


 
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the article is an additively manufactured article.
 
7. The method of claim 5 or 6, wherein measuring electrical impendence uses an piezoelectric wafer.
 
8. The method of claim 5, 6 or 7 wherein removing material includes removing residual powder.
 
9. The method of any of claims 5 to 8, further comprising flushing the internal passage in order to remove the residual material.
 
10. The method of any of claims 5 to 9, further comprising placing the additively manufactured article in service if the measured impedance of the additively manufactured article is within the acceptable range.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description