To improve the quality control of its 3D metal printers, metal laser powder bed fusion (PBF) manufacturer Additive Industries, announced a new partnership with additive manufacturing quality assurance software provider Sigma Labs. As reported, the collaboration will allow in-process melt-pool monitoring for Additive Industries’ MetalFAB1 printers, one of the first integrated metal 3D printing systems designed for high-end industrial-quality production in demanding markets.
The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement provides Additive Industries the chance to use Sigma Labs PrintRite3D, an in-process quality assurance (IPQA) software package for metal additive manufacturing (AM), allowing the MetalFAB1 3D printers to be equipped with a melt pool monitoring solution.
Both companies consider the integration of the in-process quality control software as a valuable addition to Additive Industries’ 3D printers, which are ready for up to four full-field lasers and real-time multi-laser visualizations in 2D or 3D, as well as capable of highlighting potential anomalies in the part. Moreover, engineering teams from the two companies collaborated on the development of what they claim could be the first near-real-time visualization of the build thermal history for a quad laser 3D metal printer.
“Our engineering teams have truly accomplished a remarkable milestone in 3D metal printing by designing and building a high-performance computer platform that processes sensor data and produces a near real-time visualization for a quad laser printer,” said Mark K. Ruport, President and CEO of Sigma Labs since December 2019. “We are very pleased to be working with an industry leader such as Additive Industries to accelerate the industrialization of 3D metal printing. The MetalFAB1 is a remarkable printer and it’s a privilege to have it certified as PrintRite3d Ready.”
The latest announcement comes five years after Sigma Labs first entered into an evaluation period for its proprietary PrintRite3D products with Netherlands-based Additive Industries. At the time, the company purchased a non-exclusive license to integrate Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D systems into a MetalFAB1 prototype machine for evaluation purposes. Additive Industries later joined Sigma Labs’ OEM Partner Program for embedding and reselling Sigma’s PrintRite3D software within its AM equipment.
Now, the two companies have completed the certification process designating MetalFAB1 printers as PrintRite3D Ready. Furthermore, existing and new MetalFAB1 customers can now purchase and add Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D to the 3D printing platform, with end-user benefits that include reduced post-processing costs, less material waste, early defect detection, independent third-party quality assurance, and faster part qualification.
Sigma Labs has previously described the standing long-term relationship between the two companies as ideal to address the needs of metal component manufacturers across a range of industries and advance the reliability and quality of AM production in real-time.
Available directly to manufacturers as a third party retrofit, or as an embedded solution to 3D metal printer manufacturers, PrintRite3D developers claim it will revolutionize commercial AM by enabling non-destructive quality assurance in mid-production. Allowing errors to be corrected in real-time, reducing waste, and increasing throughput.
After a successful year with tests and evaluations by major companies and organizations around the world, as well as product commercialization, Sigma Labs is seeking to expand its patented PrintRite3D software technology in the market through strategic partnerships with AM hardware and software vendors, OEMs, research and development organizations, universities, and major manufacturers in the aerospace, medical, automotive and oil and gas industries.
Earlier this year, when explaining why Sigma Labs is so uniquely positioned in the rapidly developing 3D printing space, Ruport highlighted that the need for standardization within 3D metal printing is significant, because of the variables that are in play during the printing process. Specifying that the only way that the end-user can certify that the end product that they’re manufacturing meets the demands of the original design is to have a consistent quality assurance process across all those printer types.
There is a growing need for quality assurance processes in production to ensure part quality in industrial metal AM. After eight years of growth, Additive Industries continues focused on bringing metal additive manufacturing for functional parts to high-end and demanding industrial markets in the aerospace, automotive, and healthcare that need improved reproducibility, productivity, and flexibility. Through this new integration with Sigma Labs, Additive Industries can rest assured that the parts that come out of its flagship printer have gone through third party quality controls.
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