In-process monitoring and prediction of droplet quality in droplet-on-demand liquid metal jetting additive manufacturing using machine learning


In droplet-on-demand liquid metal jetting (DoD-LMJ) additive manufacturing, complex physical interactions govern the droplet characteristics, such as size, velocity, and shape. These droplet characteristics, in turn, determine the functional quality of the printed parts. Hence, to ensure repeatable and reliable part quality it is necessary to monitor and control the droplet characteristics. Existing approaches for in-situ monitoring of droplet behavior in DoD-LMJ rely on high-speed imaging sensors. The resulting high volume of droplet images acquired is computationally demanding to analyze and hinders real-time control of the process. To overcome this challenge, the objective of this work is to use time series data acquired from an in-process millimeter-wave sensor for predicting the size, velocity, and shape characteristics of droplets in DoD-LMJ process. As opposed to high-speed imaging, this sensor produces data-efficient time series signatures that allows rapid, real-time process monitoring. We devise machine learning models that use the millimeter-wave sensor data to predict the droplet characteristics. Specifically, we developed multilayer perceptron-based non-linear autoregressive models to predict the size and velocity of droplets. Likewise, a supervised machine learning model was trained to classify the droplet shape using the frequency spectrum information contained in the millimeter-wave sensor signatures. High-speed imaging data served as ground truth for model training and validation. These models captured the droplet characteristics with a statistical fidelity exceeding 90%, and vastly outperformed conventional statistical modeling approaches. Thus, this work achieves a practically viable sensing approach for real-time quality monitoring of the DoD-LMJ process, in lieu of the existing data-intensive image-based techniques.



Droplet-on-demand liquid metal jetting (DoD-LMJ), In-process sensing and monitoring, High-speed imaging, Millimeter-wave sensing, Machine learning