Industrial CT scanning: Save time and make better decisions faster during mold qualification:
Prototype parts and assemblies can be non-destructively scanned; measured accurately and virtually cross-sectioned to check for defects and abnormalities in less than one hour.
The comparison of early production parts and proven prototypes are frequently time and labor-intensive across industries, but with 3D ProScan the analysis of pre-production parts to prototype can be performed in less than one hour, saving valuable time and cost.
Quality assurance during production is also rapidly improved; individual parts can be quickly qualified via scan and referenced to the original design intent. Instead of halting assembly lines for control checks, multiple parts and assemblies can be analyzed simultaneously.
Traditional Process Versus CT Scanning
For complex plastic injection molded parts, mold qualifications can run for weeks if not months. Industrial CT scanning saves hundreds of hours during qualification and has become the most popular choice for companies that want to get their products to production quickly.
Once a part is designed and the mold is built, an FOT or first run is done to check that the mechanics and electronics of the mold are working properly with no large defects on any of the parts.
During the process development phase specific settings are designed to fine-tune the molding process. These settings include pack pressure, pack time, melt temperature, mold temperature, and cooling time, among others.
Parts from several processes are visually inspected and the best parts chosen to be sent to more formal inspection. These parts are then inspected by calipers or optical measurement systems.
Moving Forward & Faster
Traditionally, the data is reviewed and an educated guess is made about the best process. The best parts from the best process go into full first-article inspection. Programs are created around the part, fixtures are engineered, built and adjusted to align the part, and physical cross sectioning may be needed to cut sections, inevitably changing the free state of the part.
If a first article inspection does not pass, readjusting the process and fixture adds more time to the schedule. When getting parts to production fast is crucial, finding the best process and qualifying molds must be done quickly and efficiently.
Before going into a full first article inspection, CT scanning the best processes and creating part-to-CAD overlay comparisons can quickly determine which process yields parts closest to the intended design. Defining the best process changes the first article inspection from an investigation exercise to a confirmation exercise.
With advanced software, programs are created using only the CAD model and part drawing without the parts in hand. This advantage allows programming to be done before or while the mold is being built, saving hundreds of hours from the project timeline. In addition, parts are scanned non-destructively in their free state and the 3D point clouds are aligned virtually, removing the need for fixtures and physical cross sectioning. All CT scanning inspections are accurate within 5-7 microns.
Real World Example
A case in which traditional metrology takes 27 days due to long first article inspections that require custom fixtures, resampling or readjusting of the process, and further inspections. Industrial CT scanning cuts that timeline to 13 days because a part-to-CAD overlay determined the best process before inspection, then parts were scanned without fixtures in their free state. The program was also created weeks ahead of time, meaning inspection results could be generated in one day.
After mold qualification is completed and the mold is transferred to the manufacturer, a part-to-part analysis is done to ensure that the process of the manufacturer is the same as the process of the mold builder. This is performed by scanning both parts, setting up one as the standard and overlaying the other on top to see similarities and/or differences.
IQ, OQ, and PQ runs
During the IQ, OQ, and PQ runs, first article inspections run at a much faster pace because the program for inspections is already completed and can be used at any point in the future. Results from traditional metrology methods would typically take days, but with 1-hour scans and an inspection program ready to run, industrial CT scanning results are generated in a matter of hours.
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