3D printing company Sigma Labs receives DARPA OM Phase III award, $400K contract with Honeywell Aerospace
The third and final phase of the program is slated to begin before year’s end, and will continue through to mid-2018. In the meantime, Sigma Labs can look forward to its hefty new contract with Honeywell Aerospace, worth approximately $400,000.
For those new to the project, last year we introduced you to the DARPA OM award program, headed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) for Open Manufacturing (OM), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Consisting of three phases, the DARPA OM program seeks to develop an Integrated Computational Material Engineering framework that can accurately predict the properties of 3D printed metal components.
As the project website explains, “uncertainties in materials and component manufacturing processes are a primary cause of cost escalation and delay during the development, testing and early production of defense systems.” Despite extensive testing, DARPA reports that fielded military platforms often suffer unanticipated performance problems. “These uncertainties and performance problems are often the result of the random variations and non-uniform scaling of manufacturing processes.”
In other words, a material’s physical properties change according to different manufacturing methods. When 3D printed, for instance, metal behaves differently than it would through conventional manufacturing processes. If not accounted for properly, the result can be unpredictable, leading to unforeseen performance problems.
For this reason, DARPA launched the Open Manufacturing program as a means to lower costs and expedite the delivery of high-quality manufactured goods with stable, predictable performance. This can be done by creating “a manufacturing framework that captures factory-floor and materials processing variability and integrates probabilistic computational tools, informatics systems, and rapid qualification approaches.”
With its swift advance into the final phase of the DARPA OM program, Sigma Labs has announced that it has officially achieved the quality assurance that the Defense Department is looking for when using 3D printed metal. After completing Phase I and II in 2014 and earlier in 2016 respectively, Sigma Labs is ploughing steadily ahead.
“We are very pleased to have once again been selected for a follow-on contract with Honeywell as part of their DARPA OM award,” said Mark Cola, Sigma Labs’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to working with Honeywell and its team to further demonstrate how our PrintRite3D technology enables rapid manufacturing processes such as laser-based 3D printing for precision metal components. Through this award, we’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate how our PrintRite3D software can be a key enabler for developing quality assurance standards for metal [3D printed] aerospace components.”
Sigma Labs CEO Mark Cola
With Phase III expected to continue well into 2018, it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more about Sigma Labs’ developments in the months to come. How exactly Honeywell Aerospace will choose to employ the awarded quality assurance software, and on which Defense projects, remains to be seen.