Partnership to assess improving metal additive manufacturing production yields

The partnership will study the effects of recycled powder and part placement on the additive manufacturing process.

Metal additive manufacturing quality-assurance software provider Sigma Labs (Santa Fe, NM) has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD). NIST and Sigma Labs will study the effects of recycled powder and part placement on process variability and part quality using Sigma Labs' PrintRite3D technology.

Related: Sigma Labs receives DARPA open manufacturing contract

The study will characterize the use of recycled powder in the laser powder-bed fusion (LPBF) process using both in situ monitoring technology and post-process mechanical property characterization. This is important to the global additive manufacturing community because changes in powder characteristics and chemistry may impact the build process and resulting part quality. The results from this study will be disseminated to the additive manufacturing community through journal articles, while the in and ex situ data will be made available via the NIST AM Material Database.

During this study, Sigma's In-Process Quality Assurance PrintRite3D INSPECT software will play a key role in quantifying process variability and part quality using its Thermal Energy Density (TED) In Process Quality Metric, which quantitatively measures melt pool variation and part quality.

Using Sigma Labs' software will enhance NIST’s interlaboratory round-robin studies to provide much-needed scientific in situ data on the impacts that different build layouts or recycled powder have on the LPBF additive manufacturing process and its variability, explains Mark Cola, president and CTO at Sigma Labs. This knowledge may help to improve the efficiency and reliability of the process so that the additive manufacturing community can take full advantage of its desirable material and cost savings, he says.

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