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Interview with Senvol’s Annie Wang on Data for 3D Printing

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A few years ago when Senvol started, it sounded like what they wanted to do was boring. A database of machines and properties, yawn. Surely this wasn’t a start up that would get anyone excited? Perhaps it didn’t initially but once Senvol had collected, collated and made accessible its databases the company got the right type of attention. Funding bodies, large companies, government agencies were all interested to learn more and crunch the numbers and the only place to get them was from Senvol. Brilliant business idea and excellent execution gave us a valuable resource for 3D printing. We spoke to Senvol President Annie Wang to find out more about the firm.

What is Senvol?

Senvol is the global leader in data for additive manufacturing (AM).  We provide various products and services that allow companies to access AM data, generate AM data, and analyze AM data.

What do you bring to 3D Printing?

Senvol’s products and services have been used by a variety of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies in industries such as aerospace, oil & gas, consumer products, and automotive.

Why should I partner with you?

AM is changing how products are designed and manufactured in countless industries.Today, we are just at the tip of the iceberg.And what is at the epicenter of the AM industry?Data.Be it an end user, software provider, or material manufacturer, all organizations in the AM industry need and rely upon data for their AM initiatives.But data for AM is hard.It’s a big fundamental problem for the industry.Senvol is solving this problem and is the global leader in data for AM.

A Senvol Database Search Query

How are you using databases for 3D printing?

We provide multiple databases for AM that focus on material properties and machine capabilities.  Namely, we offer the Senvol Database and Senvol Indexes.

The Senvol Database is the first and most comprehensive database of industrial AM machines and materials. The Senvol Database contains spec-sheet data provided by machine manufacturers and material suppliers.  The Senvol Database is free to use on our website  and is one of the most-used resources in the industry. Additionally, the Senvol Database data is available for use within the software of many of our partners, such as Granta.

Senvol Indexes, on the other hand, are pedigreed data sets for AM material characterization.  All Senvol Indexes include test specimen properties, and their associated process parameters and feedstock characteristics.  All Senvol Index data is developed by Senvol.

What is the Senvol SOP?

The Senvol SOP is a standard operating procedure that details how to generate pedigreed AM data.The 100+ page manual is used by organizations to ensure that every data generation project follows a standard procedure.

The Senvol SOP has been used by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the past two years.

A Senvol ML Result. ” The three quality envelopes (red, yellow, purple) indicate what process parameters should be used in order to achieve a target material density. All points on the surface would allow the build to achieve the target material density. This image is from data analyzed for the U.S. Navy.”

What is Senvol ML?

Senvol ML is our newest product and is machine learning software for AM.The Senvol ML software contains capabilities that can be used to:

  • Support qualification of AM machines & materials
  • Rapidly optimize AM process parameters
  • Predict material properties
  • Gain insights from in-situ monitoring data to support quality assurance
  • Minimize data generation costs

What is Senvol Services?

Senvol Services is the consulting division of Senvol.  Senvol Services provides both business and technical expertise in AM, with a particular focus on projects that are data-related.

You seem to be working a lot for the defense industry?

Yes, we do a fair bit of work for the defense industry, most notably for the U.S. Department of Defense.  Customers for various projects have included the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Defense Logistics Agency, among others.  The defense industry is leading the way with the adoption and use of AM, and we are pleased to support those efforts with our products and services.

If I want to implement 3D printing for manufacturing what advice would you give me?

Start small and pick a pilot project.There is so much to learn, and so many hidden costs and bottlenecks.You can hear people talk about it – at conferences, for example – but there’s no better way to truly learn than to experience the challenges first-hand.

What is holding AM back?

The usual suspects.  But if I had to pick one that is top of mind right now, it’s the lack of repeatability in the process.  The fact that you can send the same file to the exact same machine two times in a row but not get the exact same result is a problem, particularly as the industry is turning more towards production applications.  The good news is that I expect this problem to improve.  As the industry continues to grow, and the number of AM machine sales increases, the manufacturing process to produce those machines will become more robust, which I believe will lead to greater consistency and repeatability for the builds conducted with those machines.

What advancements in AM are you excited about?

The development of in-situ monitoring.  More sensors are being deployed within machines, capturing more and more data.  I think, relatively speaking, that we’re still at the infancy of the use of in-situ monitoring within AM, but I’m very excited by what I’m seeing and the prospects for what the future holds.  In-situ monitoring data holds the potential to completely redefine the way that the industry goes about qualification and certification.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

Many companies and organizations have multiple sites with a range of different AM machines. Our vision for our Senvol ML software is that an organization will have one instance of the software such that the various sites and AM machines within it are all contributing data to the software.  As more data is generated across the organization, the Senvol ML software will continually improve and the predictive reliability will continue to become more accurate.  This is particularly beneficial because it will mean that everyone across an organization will benefit from their colleagues’ data, regardless of whether or not they are in the same site. In turn, this will substantially decrease the time and costs associated with qualification, process parameter development, and quality assurance.

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