A highly effective non-destructive system to inspect ‘green parts’ of powder metallurgy manufacturing process resulting in a higher-level quality assurance and savings in material, time as well as energy.

DIRA-GREEN is a cooperative project in the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, in the ‘Research for SME Association’ call. The DIRA-GREEN project (Contract no.286803) started on 1st October 2011 with participation of 13 partners from 7 European countries. The aim is to develop a fast and reliable inspection tool based on digital radiography for the inspection of green parts.

Powder metallurgy (P/M) is the major manufacturing route for many industrial sectors. Over a wide range of parts, such as transmission and gearbox steel parts for automotive, cemented carbides and high speed steels for metal, wood or stone-working, magnets and soft magnetic materials, fine ceramics, refractory metals, bearings, etc., this manufacturing procedure is becoming more and more determinative. European P/M SMEs are having difficulty being competitive in producing lightweight, high quality, cost-efficient parts, especially for the growing sector of applications with more demanding mechanical properties and larger production scales (i.e., aerospace and medical industries).

The main drawback of P/M is that following powder compaction (“green part”), porosity and cracks in the microstructure may be present. This can lead to unreliable mechanical properties that limit the usefulness of this manufacturing technique. Material porosity does not change during sintering, and therefore it is preferable to determine ‘green part’ porosity to avoid unnecessary sintering, thus saving material, energy, and time.

There is a clear need within the modern P/M industry for a rapid, non-invasive instrument capable of determining the porosity of ferrous and nonferrous ‘green parts.’ The industry lacks a fast, non-destructive inspection devise capable of identifying local density defects in sintered or ‘green parts’.
DIRA-GREEN project is aimed to develop a Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) technique using Digital Radiography (DR), which enables online quality assurance of ‘green parts’, by monitoring compacted material porosity, and identifying microscopic cracks.
The project leads to gain a greater understanding of digital radiography technology applied in P/M. The density map for component, indicating the size and location of defects will be stored in a database, and will facilitate an ‘improvement cycle’ to optimize powder metallurgy mould and die designs.
The availability of a reliable and attainable inspection tool for detecting ‘green part’ defects would result in substantial increasing of European P/M SMEs’ competitiveness, by reduction costs associated with the production and control of the parts, and by improvement of powder metallurgy parts reliability.
 CONTRACT: 286803
 STARTED: 2011-10-01
 DURATION: 36 months
 STATUS: On-going

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA-Research Executive Agency(FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. FP7-SME-2011-286803 DIRAGREEN.