By Alex Benham Picture this: You’re lying in bed, fast asleep, when your phone rings.…
By Alex Benham
In my last post, we delved into the importance of process health in additive manufacturing and explored the six key reasons why process health matters. Today, I’m shifting focus to another crucial aspect of production: Machine Health.
In additive manufacturing, it’s common knowledge that each machine is a unicorn…and not in a good way. The industry is flooded with various OEMs, each with various machine models that operate a little bit differently, report information a bit differently, and act to the same inputs a bit differently. These variations are found even in machines with consecutive serial numbers. These discrepancies in the performance and reliability of the machines make it challenging for anyone trying to maintain consistent quality across a production fleet.
This is where PrintRite3D® Machine Health comes into play. It is a powerful monitoring solution that allows us to understand and track variance within our machines. Utilizing onboard sensors and advanced statistical analysis, Machine Health provides real-time insights into the performance of our production fleets. By identifying sudden changes, steady trends, and non-conformance of key parameters in the machine environment, Machine Heath brings a bare minimum to quality of any industry, helping you understand operational variance and know if you’re within standard operating windows.
Ensuring the highest level of quality is always at the forefront of my mind—there must be objective measurement techniques we can rely on. Established, reliable, statistical evaluations and unbiased decision-making processes strengthen the accuracy of quality evaluations to maintain the desired level of quality. Machine Health does all of this, plus provides at least one significant advantage in its ability to concatenate production runs so we can evaluate and identify statistical variance. By combining data from multiple runs, we can gain a broader perspective on our machine’s performance and our fleet’s performance over time. Analyzing trends and comparing data to a baseline, we can quickly identify any deviations or variations that may occur during production runs.
This analysis not only helps us pinpoint potential issues but also provides valuable insights for process optimization. I can’t emphasize enough how important statistical evaluations and trending data can be. Leveraging the power of data analysis, we can make data-driven decisions rather than relying on guesswork and subjective judgments. This empowers our users to continuously improve production processes, reduce defects, minimize waste, take proactive measures, and make informed adjustments to optimize their processes and ensure consistent quality output.
Facilities employing multiple machine makes and models understand the confusion and headaches caused by one-off terminology used by different OEMs. That’s why we implemented a robust standardization framework for the Machine Health module. By adopting a clean, standards-based language for sensor types, unifying units and terminology across machine makes and models, we provided a common language for sensor types and parameters. Doing this vastly improves comparability of data for all machines, facilitates seamless integration, and creates simple consistency across a shop floor to enable operators and process engineers to finally understand and interpret their data, regardless of the machine
Simplified Compliance Reports
Regulatory compliance is a critical aspect of any manufacturing operation, and having a standardized system like Machine Health brings significant benefits in this regard. Unifying data formats across machine types permits accurate and consistent reporting structures, making it easier to meet the requirements of oversight bodies and regulatory agencies. Standardization not only streamlines the reporting process, but also ensures that the data provided is reliable and consistent, enhancing transparency and accountability, as well as providing a complete audit trail for quality control. Along with the rest of PrintRite3D, Machine Health provides automated reporting capabilities, and generates comprehensive reports with key quality metrics and pass/fail analyses based on user-defined criteria. These reports provide the necessary documentation and evidence to demonstrate compliance with regulatory standards, giving manufacturers peace of mind and confidence in their operations.
Reduced time and expense
With all these great benefits, it must hit the bottom line at some point. Truthfully, taking in a single data stream, doing some fancy math to find variance, and making a chart isn’t that hard to do…once. Anyone with some level of proficiency in Excel could figure it out. The thing is, though, there’s typically 50+ data streams coming off machines. The complexity comes in when you must identify which of the 50+ matters, then do the fancy math consistently for each of those data streams, then do it for every subsequent build coming off the production floor, from each unicorn of a machine on the floor. From my experience, users typically deal with 12+ manually-controlled spreadsheets and 3-4 programs to handle this task. What Machine Health offers is simplicity. A single program cuts down on licenses needed. No manual spreadsheets provide traceability and controlled chain of custody. In short, streamlined, standardized, and automated workflows mean fewer headaches, but even more importantly, free up expensive engineering hours to focus on growth instead of sustainment.
Machine Health is not just a buzzword or a fancy add-on. It is a critical component of any quality assurance strategy. Embracing Machine Health, we ensure machines operate at their optimal conditions and provide stability and reliability necessary for consistent, high-quality production.
Stay tuned for the future as I dive deeper into the world of PrintRite3D and its impact on our quality in additive manufacturing operations. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about the PrintRite3D Suite and Machine Health Module, contact us HERE.
Sigma Additive Solutions, Inc.