Standardisation: qualifying LBM machine operators

Eearly August, a new operational standard has been published jointly by the ISO and the ASTM specifying the requirements for the qualification of operators of laser metal powder bed fusion machines and additive manufacturing equipment used in aerospace applications. This document is applicable if the operator qualification testing is required by a contract or by application standards.

This standard details a standardised procedure to follow for the qualification, requalification and disqualification of operators, as well as aspects that they have to take into account, i.e. theory tests, practical tests and evidence of visual acuity. Operator qualification is based on the essential variables (e.g. material, machine model) for each of which a qualification program is defined. Working outside this qualification program then requires a new qualification.

The theory test can take the form of a multiple-choice questionnaire to assess the operator's knowledge:

  • on safety aspects (machine, powder, fire, etc.)
  • on the fundamentals of the process, the equipment, its settings and maintenance, different manipulations, post-treatments, etc.
  • on the application field and the period of validity of the qualification test certificate

To prove their practical abilities, the operator then has to demonstrate the necessary steps of the process on a laser metal powder bed fusion machine:

  • Installation and adjustment of the system
  • Monitoring and managing manufacture of the parts
  • Preparation of parts for post-treatment
  • Maintenance of the system

A certificate with 2 years validity has to certify the operator's success in all the required tests. This is only valid for the model of machine, material and abilities that have been assessed.

Finally, the standard includes examples of content for the theoretical and practical assessments, as well as the qualification test certificate.

More information can be found at the Sirris 'Additive Manufacturing' standards cell: Bruno.Verlee@sirris.be and Laurent.Voets@sirris.be

Source

  • ISO-ISO/ASTM 52942:2020 Additive manufacturing - Qualification principles - Qualifying machine operators of laser metal powder bed fusion machines and equipment used in aerospace applications