Part of the Oxford Instruments Group

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (including 3D printing) has become an invaluable technology for the manufacture of many specialised components, ranging from rocket engine injectors to rapid prototypes. However, the bottom-up manufacturing process can result in significant microstructural challenges, such as the incorporation of impurities into the final structure or the formation of voids and localised stresses.

Oxford Instruments Nanoanalysis provides a range of materials characterisation tools that help to improve the additive manufacturing process, from quality control of powder feeds to effective characterisation of the resulting component microstructures.

Powder Characterisation

Many additive manufacturing processes, especially for creating metal components, require a powder-based precursor. The characteristics of the powder will significantly influence the quality of the final product and so it is necessary to control the powder particle shape (for improved flow), the particle size distribution, the particle composition and crystal structure, and to minimise any impurities. Rapid and automated powder characterisation in the scanning electron microscope is an essential part of the additive manufacturing quality control process, providing all of the necessary powder measurements to ensure optimal final product quality.

Animation from the AZtecAM software showing the rapid analysis and classification of a Ti powder, highlighting contaminants


AZtecAM is a fully automated solution for the characterisation of powders used in additive manufacturing. Based on AZtecFeature, AZtecAM combines rapid electron image analysis with quantitative compositional analysis using energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS). AZtecAM delivers both high throughput (capable of analysing the morphology and composition of > 120,000 particles per hour) and rigorous, reliable results.

    AZtecAM automated particle analysis in action, showing effective impurity detection.

    Built Product Characterisation

    Additive manufacturing is a rapidly advancing field, with new methods and instrumentation continually being developed. It is therefore essential to couple this with effective methods for the characterisation of the resulting microstructures, in order to understand the impact on the final component properties.

    For additively manufactured metal samples, electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) is the ideal technique. Combining the high spatial resolution of the scanning electron microscope with high analysis speeds, EBSD analyses provide a comprehensive characterisation of the microstructure including grain, boundary, phase and texture properties.

    Oxford Instruments EBSD

    Our EBSD systems provide the flexibility and performance to deliver on all types of metal AM samples.

    • Fibre-optic coupled CMOS detectors, including the market leading Symmetry S3
    • Flexible yet intuitive AZtecHKL EBSD acquisition software, with dedicated workflows for all analyses
    • AZtecCrystal EBSD data processing software, with multiple high-end tools such as dislocation analysis and parent grain reconstruction
    Animation showing an EBSD orientation map of 3D printed Ti alloy with the reconstructed parent (beta Ti) microstructure
    High-T parent microstructure in an AM Ti64 alloy reconstructed using EBSD

      Morphology characterisation contamination detection with AZtecAM app note

      Discover how AZtecAM, an automated system developed specifically for the rapid analysis and classification of AM powders, uses an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) system in the SEM.

      Microstructure characterisation in metal powders by EBSD app note

      In this application note, we demonstrate how gas atomised copper powders can be effectively characterised using EBSD data collected with the latest high-speed Symmetry EBSD detector.

      The characterisation of additive manufacturing powders with AZtecAM app note

      Investigate the streamlined process through the dedicated AZtecAM software recipe, for complete characterisation of all aspects of metal powders used in additive manufacturing.

      Characterisation of an additively manufactured NI-base superalloy app note

      X-Max® Extreme provides the capability to investigate the elemental distribution in structures down to the 10 nm
      scale in the SEM due to its high sensitivity when working at very low accelerating voltage.



      The use of EDS for QA and FA within production processes

      This webinar covers the use of Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (EDS/EDX) in the SEM for Quality Control and Failure Analysis applications within production processes. It will cover general Spectrum, Line and map acquisitions, Live Chemical Imaging and automated particle analysis.

      Watch now
      Parent microstructure optimisation in steels and alloys using EBSD-based reconstruction

      In this webinar, where are joined by one of the developers of a new approach to parent grain reconstruction, Dr Hung-Wei (Homer) Yen, who will be discussing the importance of understanding parent microstructures in the steel industry.

      Watch now
      Understanding temperature induced microstructural changes in additively manufactured alloys

      Learn how to overcome challenges of in-situ heating experiments for EBSD & how the heating-rate effects the temperature recrystallisation mechanism. Explore how fast & sensitive CMOS EBSD allows the effect of cooling rates on nucleation of the room temperature phase to be measured.

      Watch now
      Characterisation of 3D Printed Materials in the Electron Microscope

      Examine the role of electron microscopy as a powerful tool within the 3D printing process, see how to control the cleanliness of powder feedstock using automated particle classification with EDS as well as ensuring the quality of finished components using microstructural characterisation with EBSD.

      Watch now


      Learn how to characterise powder morphology rapidly for thousands of grains, Discover how to automatically identify and report on the presence of contaminants in metal powders, and provide an assessment of contaminant sources and support in the process of contamination control.

      Watch now

      In this tutorial, we give an overview of what EBSD (Elelctron Backscatter Diffraction) is, how EBSD works, the type of information the technique can provide, and how the recent developments can be of benefit to your applications and what it can be used for.

      Watch now

      This tutorial will cover fundamental steps of data processing such as data cleaning and grain size measurement, as well as touching on more advanced analytical tools such as parent grain reconstruction and the calculation of elastic properties.

      Watch now

      Learn the fundamentals of electron microscopy, exploring the interaction between electrons & matter to explain how X-rays are generated. We then delve into the process of EDS acquisition, identifying how a simple spectrum is acquired & how we produce elemental maps.

      Watch now

      Gallery: EDS and EBSD applications for additive manufacturing

      These images demonstrate how Oxford Instruments’ NanoAnalysis products can be used to characterise powders and 3D printed structures for the additive manufacturing industry.

      Results of an automated particle analysis of Ti powder using AZtecAM, showing the detection and classification of 30 contaminant particles
      An EBSD orientation map of an additively manufactured Ti64 sample showing the elongate grain structure parallel to the build direction (Y)
      EBSD results from an AM Ti64 sample with the build direction normal to the map, showing the predicted Young’s Modulus for varying loading directions (pole figure)
      EBSD Orientation map from sectioned particles in a gas atomised copper powder. Particles are 10-50 µm diameter
      Screen image showing the analysis of Ti powder using Live Chemical Imaging in AZtecLive, highlighting a contaminant W particle
      EBSD phase map from an additively manufactured Ti64 component showing alpha-Ti (blue) and retained beta-Ti (red)

      Get in touch with one of our Application Specialists...