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Q&A: New Paths for 3D Metal Printing

As published in Digital Journal by Dr. Tim Sandle

Metal 3D printing is changing the way we create parts. In low- to mid-volume production runs, the parts themselves can be made faster, cheaper, and with lower effort than traditional manufacturing processes.

To gain an insight into how this area is developing and also to understand what it is like to transition to a new company in a senior role, Digital Journal spoke with Jacob Brunsberg, Senior Vice President of Sigma Labs.

Brunsberg has joined Sigma Labs from General Electric, where he was a P&L leader for the company’s Binder Jet Technology unit. Brunsberg has made the move from a well-known multinational company to a small leader in additive manufacturing. He provides insight into this change and the important role innovation had in this decision.

Digital Journal: Can you provide a brief background on Sigma Labs?

Jacob Brunsberg: Founded by scientists from Los Alamos National Labs, Sigma Labs Inc. is a leading provider of in-process quality assurance (IPQA®) software to the additive manufacturing industry. The company specializes in the development and commercialization of real-time monitoring solutions known as PrintRite3D® for 3D metal advanced manufacturing technologies like laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), selective laser sintering (SLS), and directed energy deposition (DED). PrintRite3D detects and classifies defects and anomalies real-time during the manufacturing process, enabling significant cost-savings and production efficiencies.

Sigma Labs is dedicated to setting the quality standard for additive manufacturing and accelerating the worldwide adoption of 3D metal printing. The PrintRite3D solution is printer-agnostic, providing standardization of quality monitoring and quality assurance across printer fleets of varying ages and types. This standardization shortens development times and part qualification, while increasing overall equipment effectiveness of operations (OEE).

DJ: You recently joined Sigma Labs from GE. What drew you to the company and to make this move?

Brunsberg: I joined Sigma Labs for two primary reasons: its people and technology. The company’s mission aligns with my passion to remove barriers and make industrialized production with additive technology a reality across manufacturing. Sigma Labs is setting the standard for additive manufacturing quality. This is crucial because quality consistency and implementation of industry quality standards are two issues that have historically hindered additive manufacturing from moving from prototype technology to serial production.

DJ: What industries does Sigma Labs serve, and why is your technology so important to them?

Brunsberg: While our technology is beneficial to the breadth of the additive industry, our work is largely focused on industries that require mission critical parts to meet rigorous quality standards. Examples include defense, space, commercial aviation, power, and research & development.

In these industries, additive manufacturing is both the foundry creating material properties and the manufacturing function that is enabling the production of geometries never possible before via traditional manufacturing means. With this level of complexity, inspection of these new geometries is becoming difficult with traditional means.

As an example, we are starting to see real-life examples of aerospace systems that are entirely re-designed, consolidating parts from 300-plus down to one intricate and feature- filled component. These are opportunities to create truly differentiated products, and radically change what supply chain infrastructures look like.

As machinery technology, process engineering, and supply chain costs continue to become more competitive, a quality standard is needed to tie together full supply chains of generational technology and become the common core of next generation equipment.

On the R&D side of things, with Sigma Labs’ pedigree from Los Alamos National Labs, it is no surprise that we work closely with R&D labs and universities – collecting thermal data on the additive manufacturing build process, applying data analytics to make the in-situ monitoring data meaningful, and using that data to create a machine learning feedback loop that improves both individual part quality and the entire manufacturing process. Our R&D partners are then able to optimize process parameters, develop new applications, and support public and private partnerships.

DJ: What type of trends are you seeing in the 3D metal printing industry?

Brunsberg: I see pioneers of the industry starting to show the world radically different systems and designs that will propel their products to new heights (space pun intended). Additionally, I see a macro trend as the industry brings low-risk casting or machining replacements to production. This leads to increased confidence in additive technology, and provides winning poof points for designers and product owners.

I’ve long lived the hypothesis that in order to truly design to the potential of additive, a designer has to believe that an additive part has a true path to production. Ensuring parts can be qualified, manufactured repeatably, at reasonable cost and high overall equipment efficiency (OEE), is a major milestone to bridging the confidence tipping point. I spent the last four years working on cost control, and now, the big area of focus is validated parts that occur as you are building, without “added” post-process quality control steps. The goal is to increase OEE and confidence in process while decreasing cost and qualification (time and money).

DJ: Where do you see the industry developing in the next five years?

Brunsberg: The industry will embrace process monitoring quality control standards that will further enable design freedom, while lowering manufacturing costs. This freedom will allow more people to innovate systems, decrease part numbers, and begin to move to the true goal of democratizing manufacturing. I am excited to be a part of a company that is “enabling the amazing.”

About Jacob Brunsberg


Jacob Brunsberg joined Sigma Labs after holding senior P&L and strategy positions at General Electric Additive, the additive manufacturing division of General Electric (“GE”). In his current role, Mr. Brunsberg is responsible for leading Sigma Labs’ strategic relationships, product management and marketing programs. Read More.

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