Editorial Coverage: The full promise of 3D metal printing is
imminent as long-sought quality-control systems provide newfound
ability to scale additive metal manufacturing.
From its inception by scientists at Los Alamos, Sigma
Labs Inc. (NASDAQ: SGLB) (SGLB
Profile) has led the world in developing software that
addresses serious quality-assurance issues in 3D metal printing.
Now the company has moved from beta development and third-party
validation to commercialization in an untapped $2 billion market as
the only known provider of in-process, quality-assurance software
to the commercial, 3D-metal-printing industry able to work across
the majority of printers. Sigma Labs’ commercial launch was
recently announced in a joint sales agreement with
Materialise NV (NASDAQ: MTLS), a giant in the 3D
printing industry. Materialise has built a 30-year reputation in 3D
printing on an open system that integrates with hardware and
software vendors to provide needed tools in the
additive-manufacturing space. 3D printing is an integral part of
business at software behemoth Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ:
ADSK), which makes 3D software tools for almost every
industry, encompassing rapid prototyping, industrial manufacturing,
architecture and more. ANSYS Inc. (NASDAQ: ANSS),
a leader in engineering software, offers a complete simulation
workflow for additive manufacturing that allows the transition of
R&D efforts for metal additive manufacturing into a successful
manufacturing operation. HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), a
recognized leader in the printing industry, now provides both
3D-metal-printing hardware and software with the introduction of
its HP Metal Jet technology.
- 3D printing is at the forefront of a $100 trillion digital transformation.
- Sigma Labs provides solution to major obstacle preventing 3D
metal printing from being fully utilized in manufacturing.
- SGLB and Materialise integrate PrintRite3D quality-assurance
software and begin commercialization.
To view an infographic of this editorial, click here.
A Global Transformation
The world is entering what many have dubbed the fourth
industrial revolution. This transformative period is being built
upon the widespread availability of digital technologies that were
the result of the third industrial, or digital, revolution. The
fourth industrial revolution is being driven largely by the
convergence of digital, biological and physical
innovations, many of which are now occurring in additive
The World Economic Forum estimates the value of this
transformation at an eye-popping $100 trillion across all sectors
in just the next 10 years. The manufacturing sector, a primary
driver of prosperity and economic growth, is a key factor in this technological tsunami, and given
its ability to entirely reshape the global manufacturing sector,
additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is at the forefront of this
“Emerging technologies such as AI, robotics and 3D printing are
disrupting the manufacturing industry and unlocking new ideas and
potential that were previously unimaginable,” said Dion Weisler,
president and CEO of HP Inc. during a recent World Economic Forum.
“With this change comes opportunity. 3D printing, in particular, is
at the forefront, given its ability to reshape the sector.”
Despite the potential, a myriad of variables from machines to
materials creates production challenges in additive manufacturing.
Aerospace, defense, auto makers and biomedical have all embraced
the potential of 3D metal printing but have been limited by the
inability to completely understand and control the
3D-metal-printing process, which has led to excessive costs and
inability to scale production.
One of the primary impediments preventing 3D metal printing from
being fully embraced and displacing traditional manufacturing has
been quality-control issues. Manufacturers can’t be certain each
newly formed metal part meets precise specifications in every layer
of a 3D part and have been forced to rely on costly and
time-consuming postproduction inspection techniques. The inability
to know the quality of finished products until postproduction and
the uncertainty of parts being produced with consistency has
severely limited the widespread adoption of additive manufacturing.
Due to these limitations, 3D metal printing has been mostly
relegated to prototyping — until now.
Sigma Labs Inc.
(NASDAQ: SGLB) removes any uncertainty by providing
quality assurance during the printing process rather than after, or
post process. Sigma’s PrintRite3D(TM) uniquely leverages thermal
signatures to monitor the quality of each part in the production
process, layer by layer and in real time, using artificial
intelligence to predict flaws in the melt pool during
This approach allows machine operators to correct or stop
production of a defective part, which results in reduced error
rates and higher yields. The sector has been searching for proven
tools and techniques to improve quality, cut costs and scale
production. This incredibly sophisticated and powerful technology
holds tremendous value for the 3D-metal-printing industry.
Changing the Landscape
“We may know the specifications of the raw materials used, but
we still have limited knowledge of how those materials are changed
through the AM processes,” stated a recent
Forbes article that featured Sigma Labs. The article
further explained, “While legacy manufacturing techniques have
decades, or even centuries, of scientific study into all the
physical characteristics of what they produce, the new forming
methods of AM have at best very incomplete data.”
The advent of Sigma Labs’ revolutionary PrintRite3D software
changes the landscape, not only providing needed data but also
delivering the ability to control the process to ensure the quality
of each layer of every part during the additive manufacturing
process. Sigma’s technology is real-time metallurgy, providing
assurances that the microstructure of the metal is precise and
meets exacting specifications.
Using AI, Sigma’s software can, over time, determine the
signature of metal structural flows, monitoring for multiple
variables such as proper laser sintering or warpage, thus providing
manufacturers the quality assurance they need to scale production
and fully commit to additive manufacturing.
“We provide quality assurance in-process rather than
post-process,” said Sigma Labs executive chairman Mark Ruport.
“Think of it as akin to a CT scan of the part while it’s being
Monumental Move to Commercialization
In an industry-first collaboration, Sigma Labs recently
announced a joint sales
agreement to commercialize SGLB’s PrintRite3D technology, which
has been integrated with the Materialise Control Platform. A
recognized global leader in 3D printing software, Materialise
provides the widely used Materialise Control Platform (MCP), an
embedded hardware and software solution that provides better
control over the AM process by giving full control to the end user.
Sigma’s software is the missing element, providing much-needed
controls for quality assurance.
This joint agreement not only validates the efficacy of SGLB’s
quality assurance software, it also establishes commercial
viability. “We’re coming out of a long stretch of testing and
validation,” said SGLB president and CEO John Rice. “We’ve said
that 2020 is the year when we finally take advantage of all that,
and this announcement is a reflection of that.”
The partnership with Materialise marks a noteworthy opportunity
for Sigma Labs. Materialise incorporates three decades of
3D-printing experience into a range of software solutions and 3D
printing services, which together form the backbone of the
3D-printing industry. Now that the two companies have achieved
integration, they will offer a unique product solution for retrofit
of existing machines, OEM machine integration and closed-loop
“Growing our partnership with Materialise is a significant
milestone for Sigma Labs as we expand our footprint in the market
and add momentum to our quest to broaden industry access to our
groundbreaking PrintRite3D software,” said Ruport. “The alignment
is a natural step for both companies, as Materialise has a strong
presence in the additive-manufacturing market and a reputation for
quality products. Commercializing and jointly selling this
integrated solution will benefit both companies as well as advance
the forward momentum of innovation in the 3D manufacturing
SGLB is in an enviable position with a market projected to
exceed $2 billion, based on just the estimated number of 3D metal
printers shipped in the past few years. What’s even more striking
is that there is no known competition for that $2 billion market.
Sigma Labs appears to be the sole provider of real-time,
in-process, quality-control software for the metal additive
manufacturing market, capable of running on the majority of metal
printers in the market, on single, dual, or quad laser machines.
Beyond the huge existing market, 3D printing is booming, projected
to grow at a CAGR of 32.5% from
2019 to 2024, and Sigma should be able to ride the crest of
that wave as well.
A large untapped market in search of solutions, a significant
technological head start, strategic partnerships and alliances in
place, multiple patents already awarded with more pending and the
sole provider with significant barriers to entry from competition —
Sigma Labs looks to be more than ready to launch commercialization
and certainly appears capable of delivering the type of rewards
investors dream about.
Recognizing Opportunity and Potential
Materialize NV (NASDAQ: MTLS) is a longtime
leader and giant in the 3D-printing industry. The company focuses
on building software systems for additive manufacturing and has one
of the largest single-site additive service centers. Materialize’s
growth strategy and business model is built on creating an open
system that integrates with many hardware and software vendors.
Ansys Inc. (NASDAQ: ANSS) offers a complete
simulation workflow for AM that allows the transition of R&D
efforts for metal additive manufacturing into a successful
manufacturing operation. Ansys has a rich history in the
development and marketing of engineering simulation software and
services. Its product portfolio includes ANSYS Workbench, ANSYS
Engineering Knowledge Management, computing product suite, geometry
handling solutions and meshing technology.
Software giant Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK)
develops applications for various industries including
construction, engineering, architecture, media, manufacturing and
product design; 3D printing is an integral part of its business.
The company’s software is mainly used for complex simulations and
visualizations. ADSK makes 3D software tools for almost every
industry, encompassing rapid prototyping, industrial manufacturing,
architecture and more.
HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) is best known for hardware
and 3D-printing machines, although the company also creates
3D-printing software. The development of HP 3D Process Control, a
new HP software solution aims to assist customers in optimizing
3D-printing performance to meet the quality requirements of final
part manufacturing. Referencing metals 3D printing technology,
Weisler said, “We are in the midst of a digital industrial
revolution that is transforming the $12 trillion manufacturing
With the availability of critical quality-control systems now in
place, the untapped potential of 3D metal printing looms large on
the manufacturing horizon.
For more information on Sigma Labs, visit Sigma Labs Inc.
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