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6 Reasons Why Process Health Matters
By Alex Benham
An overwhelming majority of failures in additive manufacturing happen in plain sight…if anyone was watching. However, operators cannot watch every minute of the entire build process every single time.
That’s a problem that Sigma Additive Solutions has been solving for more than a decade; how to keep a reliable, and constant “eye” on the manufacturing process which can alert an operator when problems arise. Our latest answer to this problem is the PrintRite3D® Process Health Module.
Using a visible or thermal camera, Process Health watches the build plane, the powder spread of the recoat, and the result of laser exposure. Image recognition-based machine learning then judges the process, constantly comparing it to a known baseline. If it is deviating from the baseline, it immediately sends a real-time alert.
With application capabilities that extend beyond AM into many different manufacturing types, Process Health is a welcome addition to a wide variety of environments.
Here are a few of the benefits that the PrintRite3D Process Health Module can offer.
Eliminates Human Error
While a human operator could identify production problems by watching the build process, it doesn’t mean that they actually would. In addition to the sheer impossibility of watching a machine’s progress without distraction, highly-trained people add much more value to the build process by completing other necessary tasks.
That’s where software comes in. Using the Process Health Module can guarantee that every aspect of the build will be completely and effectively monitored.
In addition to providing real-time monitoring of the build, the Process Health Module also collects and analyzes real time and historical data. By accessing the dashboard, users may view key metrics, pixel correlations, melt pool data, and more. Using third-party machine learning and AI software, users have access to as much or as little data as needed for every situation.
Even more importantly, not only we are developing a recording tool that produces automated, real-time testing of acceptance criteria, but also templated reports that are customizable by audience – providing all stakeholders (internal teams, regulatory bodies, end customers, etc.) the essential data they need, without any extra numbers that they don’t. Our goal is to make the process as simple and effective as possible.
Process Health is particularly useful when validating new processes, as it allows users to quickly identify build process issues and make adjustments as needed. When used in conjunction with other PrintRite3D Modules we achieve sensor fusion—the ability to collect and analyze data from multiple sensors and sources, providing a holistic picture of the additive manufacturing process. Agreement from multiple sources reduces uncertainty, delivering confidence that each part consistently meets desired specifications and quality requirements.
No Need For Additional Equipment
Often, 3rd party software requires specific additional hardware to interface with the programming. Not only is this more expensive, but installation can also violate manufacturer warranties on existing equipment. Because we built the Process Health Module with open architecture, users can use currently existing cameras on their equipment with the Process Health software, thereby eliminating the need to add warranty-violating hardware. (Approximately half of machines in the marketplace ship from the factory with a camera. If your machine doesn’t, we can supply them.)
Retain Your Data
An additional benefit of using open architecture is that you can rest assured that your data always stays your data. The module translates the analytics, visualization, and reporting data into machine-agnostic ISO/ASTM standards, so you can easily export both raw and analyzed data sets into whatever format you choose. Instead of storing your information on our servers, all your data will remain in your possession, stored securely on your own servers.
By monitoring every aspect of the build process, the Process Health Module can inform users immediately, preventing additional resources being wasted on a faulty product. This also prevents the issue from appearing in not only the current product, but every subsequent product until the issue is resolved.
Additionally, with constant monitoring, the need for lengthy and labor-intensive QA with completed products is significantly reduced. Any deficiencies are noted and alerted as soon as they happen, saving time, labor, and cost.
At Sigma Additive Solutions, we’re always looking for ways to improve AM quality assurance. Working in tandem with the PrintRite3D Machine Health and Part Health Modules, the PrintRite3D® Process Health Module adds additional insight into sensor data, giving a complete picture (both seen and unseen) about the entire build process, leading the way in reducing costs and improving quality in the manufacturing industry. If you’d like to explore options, contact us HERE.