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DARPA Study Validates PrintRite3D® Quality Control Process for Certification of Metal Parts

Executive Summary

Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D® TED® (thermal emission density) quality metric has been independently confirmed as an important, valuable and high confidence way to ensure compliance and certification of 3D manufactured parts.

The culmination of a six-year project with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)’s Open Manufacturing Program, the study LPBF [Laser Powder Bed Fusion] Right the First Time—the Right Mix Between Modeling and Experiments, drew three central conclusions. One, Sigma’s technology demonstrates and ensures process consistency and product quality in metal additive manufacturing. Two, this technology can also monitor additive manufacturing equipment health. Third, that PrintRite3D® can be used as the way to certify quality and components.

The findings, that a combination of physics-based modeling and experimental verification and validation enabled early identification and elimination of potential manufacturing problems, relied on Sigma’s PrintRite3D® technology.

During the project, multiple sensors were used to develop TED® as an in-process quality metric that could monitor the quality of the component as it was being built. Before the project, no quality metric existed to monitor additive manufacturing builds. The TED® metric was also instrumental in creating control charts to help analyze and review data. As a result, one of the TED® metrics discovered that during the study the laser was out of specification, and ultimately faulty. As a result, PrintRite 3D® technology can also be used to monitor equipment health.

This third-party validation of PrintRite3D® is important because the laser powder bed fusion industry, also known as 3D printing or additive manufacturing, is one with few design rules or standards. And little experience ensuring consistent, repeatable quality. Additionally, the build process has many adjustable inputs that directly affect the ability to create a part and its final quality. Finally, the two most common ways to certify that a part meets quality assurance standards (destructive testing and CT scanning) are expensive, time-consuming, and do not always yield accurate results.

The research study was conducted in tandem with Honeywell Aerospace, ESI Software, Stratonics, Inc. and Sigma Labs at Honeywell’s Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Center, and published in the journal Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation in April 2019.

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