An optical approach to accurately determine surface finish for additive manufacturing

With all the investments and improvements made in metal additive manufacturing over the past decade, it has made it the fastest growing market in the field, and according to Wohler’s (2016) report, it should maintain this trend for the foreseeable future. While this growth is encouraging to those in the industry, it is also a concern, as there are still many challenges metal additive manufacturing must overcome. Until those challenges are surmounted, it will stay on the fringes of mainstream manufacturing processes. One often overlooked area in metal additive manufacturing as post-processing. Specifically, it relates to the quality of surface finish required for the part, as well as its final geometry. The mainstream media has often portrayed metal additive as a technology in which you can print and use the part immediately. Those of us in the industry know it is not that simple, and in fact, depending on the quality of surface finish and dimensional accuracy required, might render metal additive manufacturing as cost prohibitive despite all the advantages it may have over traditional manufacturing techniques.


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