By Alex Benham Picture this: You’re lying in bed, fast asleep, when your phone rings.…
Sigma Additive Solutions CEO Jacob Brunsberg discusses moving to a software-only model, new products and the company’s vision for the future.
Q&A with Sigma Additive CEO
Q: You were appointed as CEO of Sigma Additive in April – can you outline your vision for the company moving forward?
A: The additive industry has historically lacked a standard approach to qualification and certification of parts. This leads to higher, often hidden costs of quality. If additive is to flourish, it must be cost effective.
This means shortening qualification from about two years and two million dollars for flight critical hardware, to a few weeks and much fewer dollars. I came to Sigma because our company has a large role to play in driving this mission. We aim to create the framework for digital quality; connecting everything from CAD/ CAM to end inspection, while filling in the missing piece of in-process quality assurance. The time is ripe to drive consolidation of solutions; simplifying from 8-12 software programs and 5-6 excel spreadsheets, into one connected home for digital quality as well as the launch of our new software products, integrated hardware partners, and expanding OEM and software relationships.
Q: The Sigma branding is also pretty new – is this re-brand connected to the new vision of the company?
A: Quality has always been at the heart of what Sigma has done. The team has spent the last decade understanding the most complex parts of the process with its melt pool analytics. The name change to Sigma Additive Solutions from Sigma Labs marked the transition of the company from a laboratory-based company to a solutions based, production oriented company. We’re transforming from melt pool monitoring to a holistic in-process quality company supporting total part qualification and production.
Q: You’ve talked about how your company is moving to a “software-only” model. Can you elaborate?
A: Historically, Sigma was a hardware and software retrofit solution sold as a perpetual license. While we still provide retrofit solutions, we are focused on providing an integrated software-only path to the future. Our new solutions are delivered direct to endusers and OEM/software partnerships via an economical and scalable SaaS model. These software-only solutions leverage newly opened machine APIs, our integrations with other hardware providers like Novanta and Materialise MCP, and future integrations into next generation OEM printers. This opens the door for broad market penetration across the entire industry, supporting OEMs, and delivering an agnostic offering to the market regardless of machine, material, or process.
Q: I understand you just had a major product release. How does this fit into that future?
A: As part of our PrintRite3D® Suite, we recently launched the Machine Health module for standardizing disparate machine health data logs. This is part of our digital quality framework for AM qualification and standardization. In heterogenous environments, the proprietary quality control approaches that additive machine manufacturers have developed often lead to inconsistency in quality assurance across manufacturing operations.
Our solution creates a smooth user experience and allows users to connect machines via APIs or upload all machine sensor csv log files new and old. Additionally, it creates a common standards-based file format for analytics, visualization, and reporting agnostic of machine type. This provides users the ability to compare all builds across individual machines or fleets of varying OEM equipment without manually toggling through excel files and multiple software programs.
Built upon our PrintRite3D® monitoring and analytics technology, this seamlessly becomes part of a cohesive environment for ALL in-process quality data, customizable to users’ unique production requirements. It provides a path to scale to future integrated Process, and Part Health modules containing sensor fusion of camera, thermal camera, melt pool data, and more.
Q: At the start of 2022, Sigma Additive announced a ‘breakthrough technology’ that combines PrintRite3D with Materialise’s Control Platform. How will users benefit from this development and how does this fit in to your broader OEM/ hardware strategy?
A: We believe this huge step forward for quality proved two core elements: process monitoring is accurate enough to drive closed loop control and; data speeds are fast enough to react mid-layer in real-time. It’s no surprise closed loop control improves the quality outcome of parts.
We’ve proved closed loop isn’t some far-off theory; it has been demonstrated as a capable technology for today. At a minimum, this provides the industry an integrated in-process quality solution to the physical control structure of the machine. Materialise MCP controller comes Sigma PrintRite 3D-ready.
Q: Sigma just made an announcement with Novanta. What does this mean for the individual manufacturers and the additive industry?
A: Quality, and corresponding costs, are perhaps the greatest barriers to industrialized AM scale. We partnered with Novanta to pioneer the first fully integrated scan head with quality assurance. Novanta’s Firefly 3D scan head brings monitoring into the optical train as a standard, seamlessly linking to Sigma’s Machine, Process, and Part modules. We are focused on improving quality and decreasing the costs by shortening development and qualification time, and reducing the need for post process inspection.
Our partnership with Novanta lowers the cost of quality assurance by providing access to an agnostic monitoring and analytics solution, integrated with scan head technology. As a group passionate about standardization and quality, we have raised the bar for the industry and made in-process quality a standard, not an expensive option.
Q: Are there any other recent announcements that tie in the connected digital quality vision for Sigma?
A: Our OEM and Software Partner group are certainly growing. A list of current partners can be found at sigmaadditive.com/partner-program. We have been adding new OEM agreements as we build out our agnostic quality tool via their APIs, and support OEMs in their software development. Our recent announcement with Dyndrite is interesting for additive manufacturers since it introduces the ability to connect the CAD/CAM and tool path front end with our quality data. This gives users the experience of connecting CAD design and process parameters to production outcomes. This creates strong synergies with our Novanta, OEM, and software workflow partners. We look forward to connecting more pieces of the digital quality chain… from simulation to post-process inspection!