Cooperation Is Key to Advancing 3D Metal Printing

(DGIwire) – In any complex endeavor, working together as a team can produce results far richer than those possible when working alone. The progress of 3D metal printing is a perfect case in point. As recently reported in MachineDesign.com, Sigma Labs, a provider of in-process quality assurance software for additive manufacturing under the PrintRite3D® brand, was named a member of the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), a hub for R&D, training, advanced manufacturing management, and factory design based in Coventry, United Kingdom.

“Membership in the MTC enables Sigma to share and provide expertise and solutions for a number of the MTC’s projects and also network with its existing members, including a number of UK aerospace companies,” says John Rice, CEO of Sigma Labs. “With Europe as a global leader in the 3D additive manufacturing arena, this agreement provides access to some of the industry leaders in this disruptive technology.”

As MachineDesign.com notes, Sigma will install its PrintRite3D INSPECT® In-Process Quality Monitoring and Control technology at the National Center for Additive Manufacturing, located at the MTC, and participate in various member-sponsored programs with a focus on qualification and certification of the additive manufacturing process. Gaining insights into the part quality during the additive manufacturing build process reduces effort for post-build inspection and ultimately provides the foundation for closed loop process control for improved robustness.

Sigma Labs’ aims are to increase production yield of 3D metal manufactured parts, cut post-process quality inspection costs, and reduce time-to-market. These are accomplished by combining inspection, feedback, data collection, and critical analysis into a unified platform. Its components include multi-sensors and affiliated edge computers to collect real-time data on the additive manufacturing processes. In addition, software enables in-process inspection of metallurgical properties, using sensor data to establish in-process metrics for each product’s design specifications and metal.

The data provide manufacturing engineers with information in production in real time that can permit them to stop a part that is beginning to display discontinuities from continuing in the process. It generates quality reports based on rigorous statistical analysis of manufacturing process data. In addition, it allows for interrogation of suspect part data that can be used for process improvement and optimization.

“By joining the MTC and other consortiums, it becomes easier to demonstrate the PrintRite3D technology to key players in the market of metal additive manufacturing,” adds Rice. “Specifically, it is easier to show the importance of identifying and quantifying machine and process inconsistencies, as well as defining in-process defect thermal signatures in the part formation process and correlating them to CT scan results—all key steps in improving quality assurance. Demonstrations of this sort by highly respected independent authorities like MTC are important third-party confirmation of a product’s efficacy.”

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