ASTM International has started an Additive Manufacturing Quality Certification (AMQ) program for manufacturers, which should aid manufacturers in maintaining quality standards. The first four companies certified so far are a prestigious bunch indeed, comprising of Singaporean defense contractor ST Engineering Land Systems, Morf3D, Sintavia and the lesser known but excellent MIMO TECHNIK.
The standards covered by the program are ISO/ASTM 52901-2017 and 52904-2019. The program deals with quality management systems, process control and operational control. Previously, ASTM made an AM Personnel Certification and Facility Safety Certification and a Facility Safety Certification.
Mohsen Seifi, ASTM International vice president of global advanced manufacturing programs, stated,
“We are excited to announce the launch of the Additive Manufacturing Quality (AMQ) Certification program, which highlights the commitment of additive manufacturers to producing parts with consistent quality, This certification, along with our other AM certifications, provides the industry with a reliable means to demonstrate their dedication to excellence and compliance with established standards. We are proud to support the growth of AM through our comprehensive certification programs.”
ASTM has been at the forefront of creating standards for Additive for years now. They proposed metal standards in 2014, started a consortium for data exchange, started a center of excellence, proposed a data registration and took over Wohlers to publish the popular report. Its F42 committee was instrumental in defining nomenclature and much else for additive over the years. ASTM has shown a serious and determined interest in becoming the de facto standards organization in 3D printing.
At the same time there is a bit of a competition through standards going on. A few years ago standards were a ¨nice to have¨, kind of a gold star that you give yourself through hard work. Look at us, we know what we are doing. But, 3D printing has become more critical. Mistakes are more costly now, financially and in terms of human life. Aircraft parts and implants have upped the ante for us all. This has made standards, quality management systems increasingly valuable. What was first first a nice to have is now pretty much required for the most demanding clients. Things like ITAR, ISO9001:AS9100D and a focus on quality is necessary for defense, aerospace, new space and medical clients.
We used to see, especially in the US, a lot of small regional or local service bureaus with one or two machines deal with the local needs of many different businesses. Now a few big firms such as Xometry and Prototek are trying to build scale and scope in additive and beyond. These firms are trying to do this through being a platform or acquisitions respectively. This puts smaller machine shops in a bind. What Sintavia and others are doing is trying to win big long term contracts in the most demanding work through excellence in quality. This is a winning strategy. If you make someones satellite parts to spec, you can keep doing this for a long time. Take the aforementioned MIMO TECNIK, the company has 9 powder bed fusion systems including 4 SLM Solutions 500 Quad systems, 4 280 HL Twin and an SLM 125. It has milling, CNC, HIP and is Boeing supplier. That is a capital intensive setup and it took a lot of hard work and expertise to get to where the firm is today. Quality is now an essential differentiation tool that will let firms win the biggest customers and get the biggest deals. ASTM´s new certification program seems like an excellent tool for people to differentiate themselves and keep up with the Joneses.
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