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Innovative Process Inspection Tools for Jetted Additive Fabrication Systems
Keywords: Manufacturability, Process Control, Jettability
The printed electronics market has been exploring the use of inkjet technology for functional part fabrication for many years, and inkjet technology has long been in use in 3-D model making and rapid prototyping. As 3-D inkjet printing moves beyond rapid prototyping into end-use part fabrication, printing will now require use of actual materials rather than less expensive (and perhaps more jettable) stand-ins, and there will be a wide range of critical characteristics and requirements to consider in order to minimize waste and ensure part quality. To capitalize on inkjet technology for additive manufacturing processes, jetting systems must be carefully selected, characterized, optimized and controlled. But how can jetting performance be assessed and quantified? At the most basic level, inkjet system performance is dependent on the stable and consistent jettability of the material, including uniformity of drop size and velocity. Specially designed machine vision based inspection systems can be used at all stages of inkjet technology selection and development to provide objective data to support design decisions and process optimization. Once the printing system design is finalized, smaller, dedicated machine vision assemblies can be integrated into the printing system to provide timely feedback for ongoing process verification and control. This presentation will discuss the use of the innovative machine vision-based products for imaging and analyzing the performance of drops in flight from inkjet print heads or other free-drop dispensing systems during printing system selection, development and use in production.
Yair Kipman, President
ImageXpert, Inc.
Nashua, NH
USA


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