There is outstanding promise for additive manufacturing (AM) for critical metal parts in the aerospace industry. However, quality and geometry challenges threaten to hold back growth and cost-effectiveness. Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Sigma Labs Inc has recently developed its In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) methodology for process control and quality assurance to addresses these concerns. In contrast to post-process quality assurance, IPQA is designed to measure the attributes of the AM process in real time or near-real time and sense process variations before defects.
Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D product suite for AM incorporates IPQA technology into hardware and software to enable serial production for metal AM technology sooner than would otherwise be possible. PrintRite3D develops actionable quality and manufacturing process control data in real time. PrintRite3D’s Sensorpak hardware suite includes photodiodes, a non-contact pyrometer, and a high-speed data processing unit that can be sold with an AM manufacturing machine or retrofitted. The hardware measures in-process state variables associated with an AM process.
PrintRite3D Inspect is for in-process inspection of metallurgical properties, layer-by-layer, part-by-part. Sensor data establishes in-process metrics for each metal or alloy. It provides manufacturing engineers with part quality reports based on rigorous statistical analysis of manufacturing process data. PrintRite3D Contour is for in-process monitoring of part geometry. The layer-by-layer geometry measurement tool compares the as-built to original CAD models. It includes optics, a mechanical system, and a data path to image two-dimensional melted powder.