Following the Digital Thread: Testing and Validation

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We’ve built a part, but we’re not done yet. Even “additive” manufacturing often needs a little “subtraction” to complete the build process.

A part exists, but the work isn’t done yet. In this episode, Mark and the team will follow the bell crank across Youngstown to M7 Technologies and through three key steps to complete it, and then they’ll check whether it has the requisite quality.

First, the team will examine the results of the in situ monitoring that was conducted during the additive manufacturing process. Literally billions of data points are analyzed to understand if or where something might have gone wrong in one of the 1,626 layers that make up the part.

Second, the M7 team will remove the part from its build plate and mount it in a machine center that will remove unneeded material and supports, and then digitally scan the component to start the final inspection phase.

Finally, it is off to the metrology lab to make use of scanned part data and other inspection methods to determine if the bell crank as manufactured matches the bell crank as designed.

All along the digital thread, we have seen opportunities to capture and link information to deliver improved performance and value. But how does it all fit together? What’s the big picture? We’ll cover that in the next episode.

Further Reading

M. Cotteleer, S. Trouton, and E. Dobner, “3D Opportunity and the Digital Thread: Additive Manufacturing Ties It All Together,” Deloitte Insights, March 3, 2016, accessed Jan. 9, 2018.

D.B. Kim, P. Witherell, R. Lipman, and S.C. Feng, “Streamlining the Additive Manufacturing Digital Spectrum: A Systems Approach,” Additive Manufacturing 5 (January 2015), 20-30.

D.B. Kim, P. Witherell, Y. Lu, and S. Feng, “Toward a Digital Thread and Data Package for Metals Additive Manufacturing,” Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing Systems 1, no. 1 (2017), 75-99,

A. Parrott and L. Warshaw, “Industry 4.0 and the Digital Twin: Manufacturing Meets Its Match,” Deloitte Insights, May 12, 2017, accessed Jan. 22, 2018.

B. Tilton, E. Dobner, and J. Holdowsky, “3D Opportunity for Standards: Additive Manufacturing Measures Up,” Deloitte Insights, Nov. 9, 2017, accessed Jan. 29, 2018.


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