- Sigma Labs provides critical in-process monitoring technology to unlock scalability needed to meet parts demand
- 3D printed medical devices of all source materials market forecast to reach $26 billion over two years
- As industry reacts to current crisis, demand for 3D metal printed parts expected to increase
From specialized surgical tools designed to meet a surgeon’s unique needs to customized cutting guides for knee replacements, the healthcare industry is poised to be transformed by additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing (http://ibn.fm/q3ROJ). However, scalability has been limited by the technology’s lack of in-process quality control monitoring. Sigma Labs Inc. (NASDAQ: SGLB), a company specializing in real-time quality assurance of 3D metal printing, presents a solution to alleviate the onerous burden of quality assurance in mass production – at a time when the 3D printed medical devices market is expected to reach $26 billion over the next two years.
While 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) has long been used to create product prototypes, the lack of product uniformity and onerous quality assurance costs had made engaging in mass production a pipe dream. Sigma Labs, one of the leading providers of third party in-process quality assurance software to the commercial 3D metal printing industry, has allowed companies to monitor the quality of each product part in the production process, layer by layer and in real time – leading to a dramatic decrease in error rates and higher manufacturing yields.
According to industry think-tank SME, the 3D printed medical devices sector – which already accounts for 17 percent of the total additive manufacturing (AM) market – will grow to roughly $26 billion over the next 24 months. A key segment spearheading growth in the sector has been the design and fabrication of replacement joints and artificial limbs. Over 30 million people worldwide are in need of artificial limbs and mobility devices, yet less than 20 percent have access to them, largely due to the extremely time-consuming and expensive process of producing customized prosthetics. 3D printing has sought to address this issue by enabling an ever-increasing number of patients, particularly from developing nations, to gain access to bespoke prosthetic limbs. Healthcare NGO e-NABLE has been one of the pioneers in the field, publishing free designs for prosthetic hands, which are available for anyone to print and can cost as little as $35 (http://ibn.fm/YddEE).
However, the industry’s prodigious growth rate has not been limited to well-documented manufacturing breakthroughs such as the design of hearing aids, dental implants and prostheses. In northern Italy’s Lombardy region, a shortage of ventilators in the midst of the viral outbreak was compounded by a lack of replacement valves for faulty machines. With medical suppliers unable to provide spare parts at short notice, 3D printing experts and local business owners were able to collaborate and come to the rescue by rapidly fabricating the replacement parts within a matter of hours (http://ibn.fm/E8xDs). Similarly, in the United States, Massachusetts-based Formlabs, a manufacturer of 3D printers, was able to swiftly reformat over 250 of their printers to produce 100 thousand nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing a day (http://ibn.fm/67WPy). With the scope of 3D printed medical devices widening on a daily basis, product safety has increasingly become a factor alongside other variables such as production cost, product longevity and functionality. As such, the need for a robust, efficient and easily implementable quality assurance process has become paramount.
To meet this requirement, Sigma Labs PrintRite3D(R) caters to the highly technical and precise nature of the Additive Manufacturing 3D metal branded equipment being created. In early April, the company launched the newest iteration of its revolutionary PrintRite3D(R) software, providing manufacturers with the ability to remotely monitor their 3D printing process in real-time while offering actionable information and AI-driven metrics on a production management user-interface platform. Moreover, Sigma’s technology can be used on 3D printers from multiple manufacturers to provide a consistent standard of quality assurance, thereby allowing for the technology to be deployed throughout a manufacturer’s supply chain (http://ibn.fm/ejfV5).
Following the launch and during a recent interview with Proactive Investors, Sigma Labs Chairman Mark Ruport went on to reaffirm that the company was now eyeing a “tremendous opportunity” to become the de facto standard for third party in-process quality assurance of metal parts production (http://ibn.fm/XnYS3).
The application of 3D printing within medical hardware and healthcare has allowed the industry to access critical components as and when they are needed – all at reduced cost, time, and wastage relative to traditional manufacturing methods. However, 3D printing will only truly surpass traditional techniques when the additive manufacturing industry moves from ‘post-process’ quality control to ‘in-process’ quality assurance. As one of the leaders in its field, Sigma Labs and its technological solutions are well positioned to capitalize on the industry’s explosive growth going forward.
For more information about Sigma Labs, please visit www.SigmaLabsInc.com
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