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TechSHIFT Podcast Episode 4

Automating Additive Qualification: My Conversation with Phillips Federal

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sigma partner, Dillan Drake, who is the Advanced Manufacturing Product Manager from Phillips Federal, on his informative TechSHIFT podcast. Our episode was titled, Automating Additive Qualification: Scaling with a Purpose in 3D Production and you can listen to the entire 21 minute interview here. Following are some excerpts of our conversation (edited for clarity).
Dillan: What sets Sigma apart in your space?

Jacob: Sigma Labs differentiates itself because we are taking an agnostic approach to the marketplace. Our goal is to set a standard across any type of machine so that you can compare what you are getting from a process perspective regardless of which logo is on any particular machine. Additionally, we’re connecting the network to gather data from three areas: is my machine okay, is my process okay, and, is my part okay?

Dillan: One of the things I saw about Sigma’s in-process monitoring that kind of blew me away was…the simplistic approach to understanding where and when something within the process or the printer either went wrong or showed there may be a deviation. This is not something that is typically point-and-click simplistic. Your team is making it simple for the operator and the engineers that are producing these applications to easily identify where these challenges are faced during the build process.

Jacob: What you’re seeing is our team’s mentality of, “How do we standardize this across the industry and make tangible quality monitoring and quality reporting an easy automated
feature where you don’t need a Ph.D. looking into every single build job?” We created a really deep technical product that has been used in R&D environments, and we’re now creating simplified user interfaces that are more of the red-yellow-green stoplight approach but have all of that technical sophistication behind it. If there is a yellow or red flag, you can quickly get discreet answers as to what happened, where, and why.

Dillan: What are some projects you and your team are tackling right now? And what are the goals and objectives for those?

Jacob: The Sigma team is going is to standardize around the machine, process and part health and create a simple user experience that’s scalable across enterprises. We will take it from R&D environments and create extremely functional manufacturing scale environments where you can get consistent parts from one site to multiple sites across your machines.
To this end, we recently made an announcement on a multi-site Department of Energy installation. We are also members of a material and process consortium with ASTM that is tasked with setting standards for minimum viable data collection across the value chain, from powder all the way to part. And we are working with Auburn University to fulfill some of their grants from the FAA and NASA.

The overriding objective of these initiatives is to establish the key data points that everybody should be collecting consistently across the board on machine health, process health, and part health, and how these are displayed, charted and reported in a
standardized methodology that provides a baseline for the marketplace, allowing for quality consistency across machines and sites.
This is all very exciting work for us because it gets government aligned with industry and multiple different market segments. This is not only important to all the parties, but can help drive the additive manufacturing industry forward and accelerate adoption of 3D printing.

Dillan: How should in-process monitoring be viewed in streamlining qualification within production?

Jacob: The big picture here is creating a holistic supply chain. Without this work being done utilizing in-process monitoring and setting quality specifications, we as an industry lose the ability to fulfill the destiny that everyone wants to achieve with advanced 3D printing – a flexible democratized supply chain that can be produce parts at or near the point of need.
In practical terms this means creating and implementing a quality standard that gives manufacturers the ability to send a part specification across any machine, any OEM, any site, and get that part back with the confidence that the design intent and the specifications were completed in the manner that you expected.

Dillan: Jacob, I really appreciate your time sharing the importance of an agnostic, agile, flexible approach to additive qualification and am really looking forward to working closely with you and your team.

Jacob: The feeling is mutual Dillan. We look forward to a bright future with Phillips Federal and helping grow and stabilize supply chain and readiness through quality standards across the globe.

Dillan: It’s been a pleasure, thank you. If you would like to learn more about Sigma Additive Solutions, please reach out via their website, sigmaadditive.com.

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