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Airbus Qualifying Metal Printing Using Sigma Labs Software

International aerospace giant Airbus will be using Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D Version 5.0 quality assurance software to test and evaluate metal 3D printing and its applicability to serial production for aerospace parts. The collaboration will make use of the software’s Rapid Test and Evaluation Program followed by validation tests for a powder bed fusion 3D printer. The project aims to improve the consistency of potential aerospace additive manufacturing processes.

Airbus has had an enduring interest in 3D printing aerospace parts for a while. The news of this collaboration means they’re looking to implement additive manufacturing even further. Through this joint-venture, Airbus will gain access to PrintRite3D’s In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) system, which includes more than just a software package. The IPQA system brings with it hardware, training, engineering and metallurgical consulting and also support.

“We are honored and indeed feel very privileged to have our In-Process-Quality-Assurance tools as well as engineering staff engaged with Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer,” states Sigma Labs John Rice, Chairman and CEO of Sigma Labs. “Our industry appears to be accelerating in its sophisticated quality requirements, including highly accurate and economic third-party quality assurance. We at Sigma have committed ourselves to meet that need.”

Sigma Labs’ Printrite3D package contains one hardware module and two software modules that assess additive manufacturing in terms of quality assurance and in-process monitoring. In conjunction, they can collect data and aid Airbus in qualifying metal production processes in real time, applying corrections where necessary. They especially want to conduct quality assurance tests for melt pool dynamics and part consistency.

“PrintRite3D 5.0 provides the market with a user-friendly experience to rapidly qualify an AM metal machine for serial production, and then, in the course of continuous production runs, to be able to rectify any detectable errors,” added Rice.

Aside from Airbus, DARPA has also attempted to qualify metal production processes using the software. The US defence agency studied the software and gave it 3rd party validation last year. Since then, Sigma Labs has collaborated with other companies as well, most notably Materialise. It appears the software is lending a hand in providing better parts and advancing metal printing as an industrial tool. We’ll have to keep an eye on Airbus’ additive manufacturing activities to see what they come up with in the future.

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