Sigma Labs has landed European aerospace giant Airbus to test the Santa Fe-based company’s PrintRite3D version 5.0 technology in anticipation of commercializing the quality assurance product in the coming months.
Sigma has been lining up large, unnamed companies since last year to conduct Rapid Test and Evaluation on PrintRite3D, which detects irregularities in the metal 3D printing process in real time, CEO John Rice said.
Aerojet Rocketdyne in Sacramento, Calif., also is testing PrintRite3D, but Rice said he could not name other companies or say how many are testing the technology. In November, he told The New Mexican he had five companies lined up and predicted at the start of the year that he would add one company a month.
“It’s a powerful statement to the market if an aircraft manufacturer thinks your product will be good for their company,” Rice said about adding Airbus.
Airbus will test and evaluate PrintRite3D in laser powder bed fusion, where a heat source consolidates material in powder form to form 3D objects.
The goal is for the test partners to become Sigma Labs customers once PrintRite3D is ready for commercialization.
“We provide the combination of hardware and software to allow machine operators to sample data to make sure a metal 3D printer is still within design specifications while making an object,” Rice said. “Lasers are inconsistent enough when sculpting the many layers to make an object. Manufacturing machines are not very consistent.”
PrintRite3D places sensors inside a 3D-printing machine, and there is a computer for technicians to monitor readings in real time.
Sigma Labs, founded in 2010, has 22 full-time employees with a 25 percent increase expected in the next year, Rice said. It is housed at the Santa Fe Business Incubator, 3900 Paseo del Sol.