EOS, the global leader in high-end additive manufacturing (AM) solutions, and MTU Aero Engines, Germany's leading aero engine manufacturer, are closely cooperating with respect to quality assurance of metal engine components produced by AM. The two companies have now signed a framework agreement for the joint strategic development of the technology.
The first result of these joint endeavours is optical tomography (OT) developed by MTU, an ideal and powerful complement to the modular EOS monitoring portfolio. In addition to several sensors that monitor general system status, the camera-based OT technology controls the exposure process and melting characteristics of the material at all times to ensure optimum coating and exposure quality.
Dr Adrian Keppler, head of sales and marketing at EOS stresses: "MTU and EOS have been working intensively for several years. This collaboration is now about to develop into an even closer, partner-based technological cooperation, centred on the above quality assurance tool. The OT solution enables us to perform even more holistic quality control of the metal additive manufacturing process – layer by layer and part by part. A very large proportion of the quality control process that previously took place downstream can now be performed during the manufacturing process, with a considerable saving in quality assurance costs. This also allows us to satisfy a central customer requirement in the area of serial production."
Thomas Dautl, head of production technologies at MTU in Munich adds: "By employing the quality assurance system developed by us for use in serial AM production, EOS is backing an industrially proven solution for its Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process. It has proven itself in practical testing and we now intend to make it available to other customers too."
MTU has been gaining experience over several years by deploying the tool on EOS systems. Not only does this ensure comprehensive transparency but it also provides a quality analysis method for the entire manufacturing process and supports its full documentation. Dautl: "In this way, EOS and MTU are jointly furthering the qualified use of additive manufacturing in aerospace engineering while also reducing costs. The monitoring solution represents a value enhancement not only for EOS technology but also for each and every customer."
Quality assurance is especially important in the field of serial production, because it is vital both for ensuring repeatably high component quality and for continually reducing the quality control costs of components made using the technology, which ultimately serves to reduce unit costs. The system settings and process parameters are constantly monitored in the ongoing manufacturing process in EOS systems to ensure that system and manufacturing process conditions are ideal for maximum component quality.