The robustness of the structure printed is only maintained if each layer printed is properly fused to its previously printed layers. In situations where the printed component has to accomplish a key mechanical role there is a need to characterize its mechanical strength. This may only be revealed by in-depth testing in order to discover unwanted air-gaps in the structure.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an in-depth imaging method, that is sensitive to variations in the refractive index and therefore can resolve with high resolution translucid samples.
We report on volume imaging of a 3D printed block made with 100% PLA fill. By employing ultrahigh resolution OCT (UHR-OCT) we show that some parts of the PLA volume reveal highly scattering interfaces which likely correspond to transitions from one layer to another. In doing so, we document that UHR-OCT can act as a powerful tool that can be used in detecting fractures between layers stemming from insufficient fusion between printed structure layers. UHR-OCT can therefore serve as an useful assessment method of quality of 3D prints.