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Additive Manufacturing Centers of Excellence An update to the Quality approach

James Curtis Taylor (BSME, MBA) Morris Technologies, Inc. Rapid Quality Manufacturing, Inc.

Abstract: Today, several leading prototyping and rapid manufacturing companies are setting up new organizations to address the explosive interest in production level additive manufacturing of metals. Progressive companies are educating their customers on the design to the process benefits of additive technologies like DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering EOS). This education and new product development has lead to requests for validated processes for longer term production. Current customer requirements are driving additive manufacturing companies to invest in new processes and validation tools in support of ISO and customer specific standards. This presentation will share learnings / case studies from two of these leading companies (Morris Technologies, Inc. and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, Inc.) The collaboration between initial product prototyping and longer term production is important when addressing the best value equation for products that fit the new digital production journey. Production processes and validated methods of manufacturing will be key entry hurdles once designs are proven. Manufacturing Centers of Excellence will be developed to provide these new supply chains across key industries including Aerospace, Medical and Dental.

1. STATUS OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING IN PROTOTYPE AND PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENTS 1.1. Status of additive prototyping / manufacturing The preface to this paper High volume additive manufacturing of finished production parts a quality approach was released in 2007. At that time two charts were presented from the 2006 Wohlers Report as an evaluation of the state of the industry at that time. It is important to reflect and compare the same two charts two years later. The industrial sectors that are using additive manufacturing worldwide can be seen in figure 1.0 below:

Figure 1.0 Industries utilizing additive manufacturing. One finds that there continues to be a broad use of the technology across multiple industries. Figure 2.0 shows the range of applications of additive manufactured parts across all sectors. The industries that Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing serve are aerospace and medical / dental subgroups. Comparisons from 2006 show a 0.6% and 0.8% increase respectively.

Figure 2.0 Current applications of additive processes. As additive manufacturing technologies continue to grow, more and more service providers are using this technology for the production of finished products vs. prototypes. The term Rapid Manufacturing or Digital Manufacturing is now a standard topic among service providers within the industry. Rapid Manufacturing is defined as the direct production of finished goods from an additive system. Rapid manufacturing has continued to grow since our last paper and now represents 14.9% of the additive manufacturing market. This represents an increase of 5.3% over the last two years. The intent of this follow-up paper is to update our audience on the current state of the Morris Technologies, Inc. (MTI) and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, Inc. (RQM) businesses related to additive manufacturing of metals. This information will be based on utilizing the EOS M270 DMLS Direct Metal Laser Sintering system.

2. GENERAL EXPLANATION OF AREAS TO BE DISCUSSED 2.1 Evaluation of prototype to production products: In this section we will look at how MTI and RQM evaluate one off products to identify what we call production opportunities. 2.2 Process learnings with DMLS metal products: In this section we present several areas of learnings that are known within the industry and discuss the improvements this has made in our pilot production efforts. 2.3 Validation learnings relating to process variables and production flow: In this section we will discuss two systems that MTI / RQM are using to build technical databases. These systems support metal powder and mechanical property requirements. 2.4 Evaluation of e-RP learnings relating to longer term production systems: In this section we will update the audience on our Magics e-RP beta testing and launch along with our newest supporting software from SoluminaTM. This will also include a schedule update on our ISO progress and system definition. 2.5 Detail RQMs goal of becoming The Manufacturing Center of Excellence for North America relating to additive metals: We will discuss our focus on metals strategy. This will include new partnerships with key customers within and between industries. 2.6 Define next steps of collaboration in our relationship with EOS: Here we will reconfirm our 5 year relationship with EOS as an emanufacturing partner and recommit our goal of open collaboration. 2.7 Another company is born: In this section we will introduce a new company. MicroTek Finishing, LLC. is a company born from the leadership of Morris Technologies and Best-In-Class. We will discuss this new venture as a separate entity and a collaborative partner with RQM, Inc. 2.8 Summary: In this area we summarize our current plans of expansion vs. our quality approach to additive metals manufacturing. We will also discuss our opportunities and focus areas moving forward.

3. EVALUATION OF PROTOTYPE TO PRODUCTION PRODUCTS 3.1 As products are quoted for customers they are evaluated against many criteria. Primarily there are two types of products that MTI / RQM evaluate on a daily basis. There are typically new products / new designs or products that are currently being evaluated for new production supply chains vs. traditional methodologies. A sample product life cycle is shown in Figure 3.0 below. This shows sales levels vs. time. MTI is structured for Introduction (prototyping) and RQM is structured for Growth (Higher Volume Manufacturing).

Figure 3.0 Example of Product Life Cycle.

3.2 Prior to entering the manufacturing environment for DMLS products an assessment needs to be completed to evaluate the effectiveness of the traditional design vs. DMLS capabilities and know secondary capabilities. The base M270 DMLS system can replace and even improve manufacturability when the product is designed to the known capabilities and shortfalls. Figure 4.0 below presents a simple visual of this process. New customer product designs or traditional products end up in either group A (OK to

produce vs. current DMLS process) and group B (OK to produce but requires potential design changes and a secondary operations analysis).





OK via Current DMLS Process

OK with Modified Product Design and Secondary Operations


Group A

Group B

Figure 4.0 DMLS Production Evaluation. The point is that a proper evaluation with the customer must be made up front to ensure that the most cost effective and best quality approach is taken. At this stage in the evolution of DMLS we have seem many early adopters to DMLS recognizing the importance of this phase where other customers are only interested in evaluating a direct replacement approach.

4. PROCESS LEARNINGS WITH DMLS METAL PRODUCTS 4.1 Over the last 5 years MTI / RQM have developed intellectual property related to how to best utilize DMLS capabilities and support structure optimization to effectively build new products and current products. As we move from prototyping to production runs (ie. Batch Processing) we have developed proprietary techniques to improve build quality, reduce scrap and incorporate support structures for secondary operations. We will look at three of these techniques. 4.2 Support Aids when dealing with internal stress: Longer build spans in DMLS creates an opportunity for spring due to internal stresses caused by the sintering process. Until appropriate secondary stress relieving processes can be completed it is possible to hold critical locations by using span supports. A generic support aid is shown below in Figure 5.0.

Span Support Aid

Figure 5.0 DMLS Support Aids Span Supports.

4.3 Powder removal optimization: When dealing with internal cavities that contain internal and external tubes you may have to create a new powder removal path that can be welded shut post powder removal but prior to stress relief.

A generic powder removal hole is shown below in Figure 6.0.

Powder Removal Hole

Figure 6.0 DMLS Powder Removal Ports.

4.4 Secondary operations / tooling fixture optimization: To improve build speed and secondary operations it is possible to integrate tooling fixtures into DMLS builds. In many situations this can lead to a reduction in build time and improved machining cycle times. A generic integrated tooling fixture is shown below in Figure 7.0 below.

Location Holes

Figure 7.0 Integrated Tooling Options.

The key point in this section is to think in a more integrated manor to ensure that the entire process is reviewed prior to parts being produced. This is the power of the prototype vs. production culture between MTI and RQM. We work together across companies to ensure the best possible set-up prior to the larger volume manufacturing phase.

5. VALIDATION LEARNINGS RELATING TO PROCESS VARIABLES AND PRODUCTION FLOW 5.1 RQM Coupon: The ASTM standard E8 Standard Test Methods for Tension Testing of Metallic Materials gives a range of criteria and several specific examples for specimen size and shape. Both rectangular and round cross sections can be used. We chose a round coupon because it is easier to machine in a repeatable fashion to a high degree of precision. RQM chose the smallest gage length possible to reduce cost of producing specimens, and we verified process capability through several tests and statistical analysis. It is important to save time and costs in creating these destructive tests, and at the same time ensure high statistical confidence in both the specimens and test procedures. Long term, it will be necessary to derive a correlation between as-built specimen geometries and final machined geometries to save even more time and cost. By doing this it will allow us to have real time process controls alongside each production build. RQM and MTI are participating in the newly created ASTM committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies to ensure that we are inputting our learnings and following new procedures related to additive metals coupon development and testing. 5.2 Initial Tensile Learnings - With an MTS tensile / fatigue testing system in house, it has been possible to map out mechanical properties according to build orientation and location, as well as machine-to-machine variation. It is essential to understand all these competing variables in order to ramp up into full production. Understanding how the different build parameters interact with each other and impact quality allows us to develop proper control strategies. Mapping out the properties for each machine also enables us to start matching machines to a master, which will be critical for high volume builds across several machines and over a long period of time.

In figure 8.0 below we show an example of a tensile testing report from RQMs internal MTS tensile testing system.

Figure 8.0 Example Tensile Data (4 Samples).

5.3 Variability and Secondary Processing - The DMLS process yields a product that is anisotropic (directionally dependent) due to its deposition in layers. The tensile properties in the vertical build direction versus horizontal build direction differ by 10-20% out of the machine. Through a combination of thermal processing it is possible to obtain a material that is much more homogenous and isotropic (homogeneity in all directions). With RQMs proprietary heat treating solution, we have been able to obtain tensile properties that differ by only 3-4% in transverse directions (both 0.2% offset yield and ultimate tensile strength). Figure 8.10 below shows comparison graphs of MP1 CoCr yield and ultimate tensile results pre and post secondary thermal processing (horizontal and vertical samples). Figure 8.20 shows how ductility can be improved with this process.

Figure 8.1 Pre and Post Thermal Processing of MP1 CoCr (YS and UTS)

Figure 8.2 Pre and Post Thermal Processing of MP1 CoCr (Elongation)

RQM has started at temperature testing due to specific aerospace customer requirements. Samples that have been thermally processed show good material characteristics at higher temperatures. This is providing our customers more confidence to utilize final products in more and more high temperature environments. Figure 9.0 below shows one of RQMs 1st at temperature tensile tests.


Figure 9.0 RQMs 1st at temperature Tensile Sample (CoCr MP1).

The key in this area is that individual build coupons will have to be produced for each production build, heat treated, mechanically tested, and results documented. The results will also have to be archived based on customer requirements. 5.4 Chemical Analysis - Another process control involves continuous monitoring of chemical composition of powder. RQM has measured powder composition directly after the receipt of new powder, and throughout several build cycles. With the correct controls in place, it is possible to keep the composition of the powder homogenous throughout its life cycle, even when filtering back through the system. Over time oxidation builds up, but this is

easily detected and can be controlled within a limited range based on its known effects on the build integrity and physical properties. 5.5 Particle Size Analysis - Another Validation measure that RQM is currently using in its process is particle size measurement and tracking. This study has primarily been conducted with MP1 CoCr materials with other new materials coming on line at MTI. The reason for this testing is to evaluate the particle size of virgin materials vs. materials that have cycled through the process multiple times. We find in our testing that the process creates larger particles that fuse with smaller particles thereby increasing the nominal particle size within a powder bed. Figure 10.0 below shows a sample from RQMs Malvern Mastersizer 2000 report for a virgin MP1 CoCr material.

Figure 10.0 Example Particle Size Distribution (MP1 CoCr Powder).

5.7 Cycles RQM will be pulling powder samples with each build. We will develop a database of powder lot traceability along with particle size distributions within and between builds and powder beds. Figure 11.0 below shows a picture of a nominal size particle bed of virgin MP1 CoCr materials.

Figure 11.0 Example Particle Size (MP1 Virgin Materials).

Figure 12.0 below shows a sample of removed powder (200 mesh sieve >74microns) with a nominal particle size of 57um (lower limit of 15um and upper limit of 180um) created after one 120 hour production run. RQM sieves powder beds after each build in an effort to reduce contamination variability due to these larger particles. This is just the first stage of controls and more automated systems are being developed.

Figure 12.0 Example Particle Size (MP1 10X Cycles).

6. EVALUATION OF E-RP LEARNINGS RELATING TO LONGER TERM PRODUCTION SYSTEMS 6.1 RQM was the 1st company in North America to begin using Magics eRP in the tracking of production batch products through the DMLS process. The initial beta development of the product took place during the 1st half of 2008. The objective of the e-RP system for RQM was to establish a new method for DMLS production batch and coupon evaluations to trace position, orientation and support structures of individual serialized production parts. Figure 13.0 below provides an example of the visualization screen that is currently being developed for the next revision of Magics e-RP.

Figure 12.0 Magics e-RP Visualization (next generation).

To date our system is not only capturing valuable data on specific projects but also R&D projects. Due to the ongoing collaboration approach that Materialise and RQM are taking, additional features are coming on-line faster than originally expected. These new features will allow other additive manufacturing companies to quickly accelerate their production systems to a new higher level of performance and traceability. Magics e-RP has focused at the build level but is expanding its data associations to include secondary processing criteria, materials traceability and more detailed customer / job information.

RQM is expanding its internal e-RP production system to include a new software package from SoluminaTM (iBASEt). This will be a fully integrated system approach to file management, purchase order requirements, customer work definition, work order tracking, Magics e-RP, customer specific requirements, accounting and quality inspection integration. iBASEt has been a leader of high-tech software solutions and services since 1986. iBASEt currently has two divisions: SoluminaTM and Federal Systems. The SoluminaTM software solution streamlines and integrates functions across the product development life cycle from engineering to the supplier network. This experience in Aerospace Defense, Nuclear, Medical Devices, Industrial and Shipbuilding is unmatched in the industry. RQM plans to utilize iBASEts experience in complex and stringent process requirements to support its Aerospace and Medical additive manufacturing businesses. This alignment of systems (SoluminaTM and Magics) will allow RQM to complete both its AS9100 Revision C and ISO 13485 certification in 2009. Figure 13.0 below provides an example of the type of integration that SoluminaTM can provide.

Figure 13.0 SOLUMINATM Process Management Cycle.

The key in this area is two fold: 1) To ensure a Quality approach to finished product additive manufacturing, a company must ensure that all traceability and configuration management objectives are met and 2) Customer specific requirements must be integrated into vendor processes. This effort can be huge when you begin to evaluate the level of detail that aerospace and medical companies require prior to vendor qualification.

7. RQMS GOAL OF BECOMING THE MANUFACTURING CENTER OF EXCELLENCE FOR NORTH AMERICA RELATING TO ADDITIVE METALS 7.1 When RQMs business plan was created in October 2006, the goal was simple. Build on the success of Morris Technologies to focus on one additive metals manufacturing technology in support of future high volume production using the M270 DMLS platform. RQMs initial objectives were the following: 1) Develop secured facilities to allow for a production vs. prototype culture to be developed. 2) Continue to build a collaborative e-manufacturing partnership with EOS. 3) Partner with customers to evaluate Aerospace, Medical and Dental production opportunities with key customers and key product lines. 4) Expand facilities to include requirements for secondary operations and validation of the process. 5) Develop the quality systems necessary to deliver all ISO certifications by the end of 2009. 6) Develop RQM into the preferred Center of Excellence for additive metals manufacturing across multiple industries within North America. 7) Evaluate initial product opportunities with a quality approach. 8) Complete internal validation of the EOS M270 platform to develop the necessary high focus variables that must be controlled (SPC) to enable quality finished products. 9) Utilize 5 years of DMLS experience to drive out waste from the current EOS process that would allow for more efficient production on the M270 platform.

10) Continue to promote additive technologies by being an active member in organizations like ASQ, SME, ASTM and ISO. In the following section we will discuss key customer projects and products from section 3.0 above. 7.2 Key customer projects / products: RQMs mission is to become The additive manufacturing Center of Excellence for metals. RQM does not target one industry but rather multiple industries. This helps with product diversification and it allows for expedited learnings. Each area requires different methodologies and levels of certifications, quality and logistics. In the areas below we will briefly discuss product developments across each industry. Some areas we are not able to go into details due to the confidentiality of the products.


RQM has been working with three confidential aerospace customers since 2007. This work flows from upstream prototype and evaluation projects at MTI and focuses on both process and pilot production batch processing. Detailed product designs can not be shared at this time.


RQM has been working with three confidential medical customers starting in 2008. The product focus is both instrumentation and surgical implants. This work has flowed from MTI operations and organically through RQM. Final product designs are in development and biocompatibility and toxicity testing plans are being developed with our customers.


RQM started dental production January 1st, 2009. We are teaming up with Diadem Digital Solutions ( and 3M ESPE on the expansion of our production in 2009. RQM is also working on several new products relating to larger frameworks. We are now working with 7 different dental labs (as of March 1st, 2009) and plan to add more labs each month in 2009.


RQM has been in product development with a leading additive manufacturing artist (Anthony Tammaro of Philadelphia, PA). The initial design of the metal flexure bracelet shown above was given to RQM as a new test product. By collaborating with our customer we were able to simplify the design and allow for a more cost effective product. This product is currently being used in gallery events and will soon be on sale in a line of products to be released by Anthony later this year. The next generation of products will include precious jewels.

8. DEFINE NEXT STEPS OF COLLABORATION IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EOS. 8.1 Morris Technologies (MTI) along with RQM have been emanufacturing partners with EOS form the start of DMLS. MTI was the first company in North America to have a DMLS machine and has been the beta site for multiple material launches. RQM has continued in this spirit by providing manufacturing feedback to EOS on items such as: 1) Powder bed monitoring and evaluation 2) Build parameter optimization and learnings

3) Sharing examples of quality systems and processes required for product validation 4) Dental process improvement (porosity) 5) Sharing of validation learnings (process control strategies) 6) General customer requirements that will impact future EOS equipment RQM is committed to continuing the partnership that was created during our initial business plan development in 2006. Our goal is to continue to collaborate with EOS to ensure that we are following all necessary equipment requirements and processes in the creation of quality finished parts. In support of this commitment RQM recently participated in an internal EOS summit on EOS Quality Standards for Metals and Plastics. We are committed to becoming Quality Certified through EOS by 2010. This will not only give EOS confidence in our abilities with DMLS but will also give our customers confidence in our overall quality standard.

9. ANOTHER COMPANY IS BORN 9.1 Effective June 1st, 2009 MicroTek Finishing, LLC will start operations next to the RQM facility located in West Chester, Ohio (Point at Union Center). MicroTek will have proprietary licensing of the MMP process for North America. MMP, which stands for Micro Machining Process, is a proprietary superfinishing method that delivers consistent, repeatable results using finely controlled automated processes. MMP uses highly engineered finishing media in combination with catalysts and a mechanical process to create a system that can precisely remove from as little as 1 um to as much as 40 um while achieving more finely controlled surface finishes than other methods. Unlike other finishing processes that use an acid attack, MMP does not leave any contamination on the part being processed, and it doesn't leave the part susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. The roughness of any unprocessed surface can be described by a combination of undulation, primary roughness, and secondary roughness. MMP is unique in its ability to target specific components of this roughness, enabling it to remove a specific portion of the roughness and leave the rest if that is more

desirable. This unique capability allows MMP to fine tune the resulting surface finish for specific applications. The MMP process has limitations on the size of parts it can process, but there is no universal rule of thumb since the geometry of the part factors into the decision. MMP can process an extremely wide range of materials, with the notable exception of Aluminum. MicroTek Finishing, LLC is the exclusive provider of MMP services in the United State, Canada, and Mexico. While the initial facility is well positioned to serve a broad range of industries in the Midwest, as the company expands its business in North America, it will open additional facilities in other strategic locations. RQM plans to utilize MicroTek Finishing in the production of finished DMLS parts produced on the EOS M270 DMLS platform. Currently we are working on unique geometries within aerospace, medical, dental and jewelry. The location of MicroTek Finishing, LLC next to RQM will allow for confidential applications and projects to be developed with key customers in a controlled environment. 10. SUMMARY 10.1 RQM completed its facility expansion in October 2008. RQM now has a total of 17,000 sq ft of space and an additional 2000 amps worth of power in the facility. We also took the opportunity in 2008 to expand our facilities to both primary and secondary systems including an overall upgrade of HVAC. All of this expansion was completed in preparation of growth in secondary operations at RQM in 2009 / 2010. Currently RQM is outsourcing the majority of our secondary CNC Milling, Lathe, Wire EDM and Hole Drilling operations to Morris Technologies. We are evaluating our longer term and larger batch production requirements for 2010. Once this is complete in the 4th quarter of 2009, we will begin additional capital equipment expansion at RQM in Bay 2 of our expansion. The goal of RQM was to take additive metals manufacturing to the next level of production capability and production quality. We hope to have more detailed case studies to share with SME and organizations who are interested in production quality parts on the EOS M270 DMLS platform (

We will continue to be very transparent in our approach of these objectives. Our goal is to continue to take a conservative, long term, Quality Approach to our activities. The term Quality Approach to us means: 1) All production products are produced with final quality objectives in mind. 2) All equipment high focus variables that impact quality are identified and controlled. 3) All Quality Management Systems are in place to ensure ISO AS9100 Rev C and ISO 13485 (including customer specific requirements). 4) All items that impact quality are quickly shared with our equipment manufacturer (EOS). 5) We openly participate in industry events to continue to promote additive technologies for current and new product designs within the Aerospace, Medical and Dental industries. Our focus for the rest of 2009 will we be the completion of our pilot aerospace / medical production runs, dental production expansion, jewelry product development, ISO certifications and validations in support of full production capability in 2010. We look forward to another strong year of growth.


Wohlers, T.T. (2008) Wohlers Report 2008, Wohlers Associates, Inc. Quick MBA Website ( ) July 7th, 2008 Morris, G. 2008. Greg Morriss Website [on-line]. [Accessed 20th, December 2008]. Available from World Wide Web: ( ) Liechty, Eli 2008. [RQM Internal MTS Report] October 20th, 2008 Liechty, Eli 2008. [RQM Internal MTS Report / Tensile Flyer] April 20th, 2009 ASTM, ( ) - April 20th, 2009 Banks, Laura 2008. [RQM Internal Malvern Report] September 17th, 2008 Byers, R.W. 2009. [Personal communications] January 5th, 2009. Lenaerts, K. and Moss, J. 2008 [Personal communication] June 15th, 2008. Van Espen, J. 2009 [Personal communication] March 23rd, 2009. SoluminaTM website ( ) December 12th, 2008 Diadem Digital Solutions ( ) January 7th, 2008 3M ESPE ( ) October 20th, 2008 Trilliant Surgical LTD ( ) January 15th, 2009 Anthony Tammaro ( ) January 23rd, 2009 Morris, Wendell. 2009 [Personal communication] January 26th, 2009. EOS Website ( ) March 2nd, 2009