Kristopher Lee’s picture

By: Kristopher Lee

ASM International is a nonprofit professional society focused on providing scientific, engineering, and technical knowledge to its members and the materials science community. In its education and experimentation labs, it regularly works with innovative inspection solutions that have the potential to improve quality assurance in manufacturing.

One new application it’s working on is laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF), an additive manufacturing process where a laser is used to weld powdered material to form a 3D object. Think of it like 3D printing, but for metal parts. One of the challenges ASM International is studying is how to assess the quality of the 3D-printed parts.

How does laser powder bed fusion work?

The process begins with a bed of metallic powder on a base. A very fine laser selectively heats the powdered material, causing it to weld together. By creating thousands (or more, depending on the size of the part) of tiny welds in multiple layers and discarding the unused powder material, users can effectively create a 3D metal object.

NASA’s picture

By: NASA

On June 24, 2020, engineers completed the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s structural testing campaign for the Artemis lunar missions by testing the liquid oxygen structural test article to find its point of failure.

“The Space Launch System and Marshall test team have done a tremendous job of accomplishing this test program, marking a major milestone not only for the SLS program but also for the Artemis program,” says John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager. “From building the test stands, support equipment, and test articles, to conducting the tests and analyzing the data, it is remarkable work that will help send astronauts to the moon.”

Matthew Martin’s picture

By: Matthew Martin

For more than 50 years, the benchmark for accuracy in measuring solid objects, whether machined, molded, die cast, welded, or forged, was the coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Typically using a solid, granite-base table along with a vertical, horizontal, gantry, or bridge-mounted arm and touch probe, measurements would be taken and compared in blocks to an engineering file, originally as 2D drawings and today as CAD files hosted in the cloud.

During the last two decades, however, a “new kid in town” has arrived on the scene, with power, size, point capability, and price value that are rapidly leaving the CMM technology in the dust. 

Willow Ascenzo’s picture

By: Willow Ascenzo

During the late 19th century, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and soon after discovered their properties for medical and industrial imaging when he created a radiograph of his wife’s hand. From this discovery, the powerful tool of X-ray radiography and tomography fell into the hands of medical professionals and industrial materials professionals.

Several decades later, during the 1930s, James Chadwick discovered the neutron, an electrically-neutral particle that resides in an atom’s nucleus. Soon afterward, the neutron was also recognized as a potential powerful tool for industrial radiography, just like X-rays.

As the technology behind X-ray imaging advanced and X-ray sources became more plentiful, X-radiography became more widely used in the field of nondestructive testing, and exhaustive quality standards were set in place to ensure that the use of this tool led to standardized and consistent results. The development of, and adherence to, these standards have helped push X-ray imaging along, leading to the development of both digital radiography, as opposed to film, and computed tomography as a powerful expansion of planar radiography into the third dimension.

Matthew Staymates’s picture

By: Matthew Staymates

As a fluid dynamicist and mechanical engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), I’ve devoted much of my career to helping others see things that are often difficult to detect. I’ve shown the complex flow of air that occurs when a dog sniffs. I’ve helped develop ways to detect drugs and explosives by heating them into a vapor. I’ve explored how drug residue can contaminate crime labs. I’ve even shown how to screen shoes for explosives.

Most of these examples fit into a common theme: detecting drugs and explosives through the flow of fluids that are usually invisible. When I’m in the laboratory, I use a number of advanced fluid flow-visualization tools to help better understand and improve our ability to detect illicit drugs and explosives on surfaces, on people, and in the environment.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used state-of-the-art atomic clocks, advanced light detectors, and a measurement tool called a frequency comb to boost the stability of microwave signals a hundredfold. This marks a giant step toward better electronics to enable more accurate time dissemination, improved navigation, more reliable communications, and higher-resolution imaging for radar and astronomy. Improving the microwave signal’s consistency over a specific time period helps ensure reliable operation of a device or system.

The work transfers the already superb stability of the cutting-edge laboratory atomic clocks operating at optical frequencies to microwave frequencies, which are currently used to calibrate electronics. Electronic systems are unable to directly count optical signals, so the NIST technology and techniques indirectly transfer the signal stability of optical clocks to the microwave domain. The demonstration is described in the May 22, 2020, issue of Science.

Multiple Authors
By: John Smits, Gary Confalone, Tom Kinnare

Confusion between the two terms “RADAR” and “LIDAR” is understandable. Their names are nearly synonymous, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The acronyms are RADAR, which stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging; and LIDAR, which stands for LIght Detection And Ranging. The major difference between the two is the wavelength of the signal and the divergence of the signal beam.

LIDAR is typically a collimated light beam with minimal divergence over long distances from the transmitter; RADAR is a cone-shaped signal fanning out from the source. Both calculate distance by comparing the time it takes for the outgoing wave or pulse to return to the source. LIDAR uses light wave frequencies that have a shorter wavelength, which enhances the capability of collecting data with high precision. RADAR uses longer microwave frequencies, which have lower resolution but the ability to collect signals with reduced impact from environmental obstructions. RADAR and LIDAR signals both travel at the speed of light.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

It’s easy to assume that something as simple as a mask wouldn’t pose much of a risk. Essentially, it’s just a covering that goes over your nose and mouth.

But masks are more than just stitched-together cloth. Medical-grade masks use multiple layers of nonwoven material, usually polypropylene, designed to meet specific standards for how big and how many particles they can block. And they are tested and certified to determine how well they do that job.

Healthcare and other frontline workers usually use either a surgical mask or an N95 mask. Both protect the patient from the wearer’s respiratory emissions. But where surgical masks provide the wearer protection against large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids, an N95 mask is designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of submicron airborne particles.

The “N95” (or “KN95”) designation means that the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised a novel, accurate, easy-to-operate, time- and labor-saving way to provide calibrated scale-bar standards for testing the performance of terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) systems.

TLS technology is widely employed to create detailed, high-resolution, 3D digital images of terrain, buildings, vegetation, construction projects, crime-scene forensics and—increasingly—very large objects such as airframe components that must be fitted together with precision, often on the scale of a few hundred micrometers (millionths of a meter; a human hair is about 100 micrometers thick).

“Of course, for geodesy and surveying and most forensic uses, you don’t really need micrometer resolution,” says NIST project scientist Vincent Lee. “But TLS systems are now often used in aerospace and ship building, where big components have to be joined very meticulously, like a wing onto a fuselage. That’s where measurements from a few hundred micrometers to a millimeter really matter.” And that’s where careful system testing really matters. (See video three below.)

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

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