3D Metal Printing Is Ready for Its Big Moment

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – What does the future look like for 3D metal printing? Very bright, according to a recent report from Deloitte. The consulting firm suggests that this technology is poised for growth more than double of that of a few years ago, as companies in multiple industries adopt it for a wide range of tasks. There is more 3D printing taking place in metal compared to plastic than before—a crucial benefit for the trillion-dollar metal-parts fabrication market. In fact, Deloitte predicts that metal will represent more than half of all 3D printing as soon as 2020 or 2021.

In addition to the increasing turn to metal 3D printing across industries, the 3D printers themselves are getting faster. Deloitte reports that the printers on the market in 2019 are twice as fast, broadly speaking, compared to models five years older. In addition, the size of the metal parts that can be produced by printing is significantly bigger today than a few years ago.

“The introduction of large, fast, multi-laser additive metal manufacturing equipment has substantially improved the economics of the capital expenditure cost of launching a company into serial production of 3D metal parts and subassemblies,” says John Rice, CEO of Sigma Labs. “This development is powerful for us at Sigma because it has increased C-Level executive interest in bringing down the next barrier that is impeding rapid adoption of 3D metal serial production: chronically low-quality yields. We are enjoying a spike in interest and urgency of both OEMs and end-users in PrintRite3D®, our In-Process Quality Assurance tool, providing what we believe is the most advanced and economic solution to this last major hurdle to an industrial surge to manufacturing.”

Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D® suite of products presents a significant value proposition to OEMs and manufacturers, as it is designed to increase production yield of 3D metal manufactured parts, cut post-process quality inspection costs and reduce time to market. PrintRite3D®combines inspection, feedback, data collection and critical analysis into a unified platform.

The first component of the PrintRite3D® platform is SENSORPAK®, which utilizes multi-sensors and affiliated edge computers to collect real-time data on additive manufacturing processes. It enables part quality assessment during manufacturing and is capable of measuring the salient in-process state variables associated with an additive metal manufacturing process.

This component is complemented by INSPECT®, which comprises software for in-process inspection of metallurgical properties. It uses sensor data and establishes in-process metrics for each product’s design specifications and metal. It provides manufacturing engineers with information in real time that can permit them to avert a part that is beginning to display discontinuities from going on to become a rejected part. INSPECT® also generates quality reports based on rigorous statistical analysis of manufacturing process data and allows for interrogation of suspect part data that can be used for process improvement and optimization.

Sigma Labs is further refining the PrintRite3D® suite to include two additional components: CONTOUR®, a layer-by-layer geometry measurement tool, and CLOSED LOOP CONTROL, consisting of software that can signal the machine controller for a corrective to offset a part beginning to deviate off design from developing into a rejected part.

“Ensuring the highest-quality products is a prerequisite to securing a place for metal additive manufacturing as a mainstay of industry, and we are here to help on that,” says Rice.

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