Additive Manufacturing has many benefits, including lower production costs, but only if it can be done to create: repeatable quality, operational efficiency, informational transparency, and cost control. Manufacturers know this but often don’t always take steps to make these things happen. They require the quality control software Additive Manufacturing needs to be successful.
Acceptance of Additive Manufacturing Challenges
Additive Manufacturers understand and accept these challenges. However, they don’t always invest in the quality control software Additive Manufacturing needs to overcome them. With the right software solution, manufacturers can realize the benefits of AM, without the scrap, waste, and rework that they believe is inherent in the system:
- Increased complexity and performance
- Faster time to market
- Cost reductions
- Enhanced customization
- Eco-friendly solutions
Qualification of AM Parts
One of the most important challenges for manufacturers is the qualification of parts produced by Additive Manufacturing. This issue is so crucial that many call quality assurance the single biggest hurdle to widespread adoption of AM technology, particularly for metal parts manufacturing.
The qualification of AM parts is just another example of why the quality control software Additive Manufacturing requires is an end-to-end solution for managing the entire production pathway.
How to Improve Quality Control in AM
Improving quality in Additive Manufacturing requires three key ingredients:
- Process control
- Quality control
You need visibility into real-time processing to manage all references, specs, and media and eliminate information silos. Visibility gives everyone access to mission-critical information, ranging from those in the front office to individual operators on the production floor.
In tennis, there’s the concept of forced errors. An opponent makes a mistake, but the reason for the mistake is because of something you’ve done to put them in that position. The same thing happens in manufacturing. While most errors in Additive Manufacturing are due to human mistakes, they often occur because we have failed to provide accurate and updated information or access to that information when it’s needed most. This leads to forced errors.
Process control is crucial to providing consistent quality. From the planning stage to the shop floor, you need to control every aspect of the process. When you don’t value the quality control software Additive Manufacturing requires, you fail to provide your team with the information they need, including items such as:
- Real-time changes to part specs and sequencing
- Ability to freeze processes to prevent changes
- ID negative trends before out-of-tolerance conditions occur
- Manage order holds, scrap parts, and nonconformances
Failing to value the quality control software Additive Manufacturing needs means quality will vary. For customers, inconsistent quality is unacceptable and can cause you to lose business. For safety-focused industries, such as aerospace or healthcare, inconsistent quality is downright dangerous.
Without the right software, Additive Manufacturers will struggle with:
- Control plans, sampling plans, and part quality control characteristics
- Qualifications of equipment, personnel, and vendors
- Scheduling of equipment maintenance and calibration
- Cross-reference of part specifications to avoid conflicts
- Accurate risk analysis
The bottom line is that when you are in the business of Additive Manufacturing, you need a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Quality Management System (QMS) that is built for AM. This allows you to provide the visibility, process control, and quality control that you need.
It also removes many of the hurdles that prevent companies from optimizing their AM processes to reduce production costs.
How Bluestreak | Bright AM Can Overcome Additive Manufacturing Challenges
Bluestreak | Bright AM is an innovative and extensible real-time MES/QMS software solution designed specifically for Additive Manufacturing. That means it has the functionality that AM requires built into the software. Other MES, QMS, ERP, and MRP systems that are adapted for Additive Manufacturing fail to deliver functions that are standard with Bluestreak | Bright AM.
Bluestreak | Bright AM allows you to maintain control over the entire production process, from the raw materials coming in the door to the finished product heading out for delivery. A paperless workflow ensures that everyone knows exactly what to do at each step (even outside vendors, if desired). Bluestreak | Bright AM will:
- Minimize waste.
- Improve communication.
- Reduce errors, delays, and rework.
- Analyze workflow for continuous improvement.
- Reduce lead time.
Bluestreak | Bright AM’s built-in traceability and trackability can identify any conflicts in the process, quickly recognize quality issues, and help define any necessary corrective and preventive action associated with a load or operational step.
It also supplies a proven way to track and manage production costs, including direct costs, such as labor and machine time, and indirect costs, such as machine maintenance and calibration checks.
The Quality Control Software Additive Manufacturing Needs
Bluestreak | Bright AM is the quality control software Additive Manufacturing needs.
If your service includes Additive Manufacturing, we provide specific solutions in our Bright AM software. To request an Additive Manufacturing software demo, click here!