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Janet Kar By Janet Kar • December 10, 2018

Webinar Q&A: Post-Processing Management: Work Plan Sequencing & Routing

Access Webinar: Link3D Additive MES Webinar: Post-Processing Management with Work Plan Sequencing & Routing

Question 1: Is there an ability within Link3D to identify different variations of post-processing stations for different 3D printer machine providers when using the same technology? Example: 2 different DMLS machines like EOS M 290 or SLM 280?

Yes. When you’re setting up your facility, the Link3D system supports 500+ models of composite, polymer, sand and metal alloy machines. When you onboard your machines, you’ll go through the material setup, costing setup - within that, we have through our partnerships the parameter settings used to control those machines, e.g.: layer thickness, hatching strategies and contours. You have the ability to lock in new parameters and what type of simulations within our system.

Link3D Additive MES accounts for multiple types of AM technologies, including DMLS, SLS, etc. When you create your work centers, you can create specific types of work plan templates catered to use cases, machines and modality specialties. All data generated, logged and tracked will be captured within the system.


Question 2: Can your software connect with various post-processing and other additive manufacturing hardware to capture data and monitor it in real-time? Perhaps even inspection quality tools?

We have strategic partnerships with several industrial metal and polymer hardware providers where we can actually configure our connections. It’s not as simple as turning on a button, we have to look at your environment. Is your machine connected to the internet, intranet or other hosted environment?

We’re in discussions with several post-processing machine companies to explore how we can connect the Digital Thread. It depends on how advanced the post-processing technology is, is there built-in software? As for the downstream process, be it post-processing or quality inspection, does it have closed APIs? If so, then we can integrate. 

Link3D Additive MES is built off of a full closed API system with configurability. As long as the parties involved have the same setup, we can automate data transfer.


Question 3: How do you confirm that the parameters are used in the build are those specified in the build order? What type of digital feedback is used to provide a digital fingerprint of the build?

Within Link3D’s Additive MES system, once you’ve selected the work order request and geometry, there is a field that allows you to select and configure parameters. You can set the actual build parameters for Auto-Quoting/Costing and Production Planning for Production Scheduling, which will simulate the build time based on machine and material parameters.

Those parameters will be stored within the work order request. To add, if machine integration is available, Link3D can pull parameters from build processor software systems like EOS Print and send it to the machine. Today, the system will prompt you to enter actual parameters that are used as you go through the downstream manufacturing process.

All meta data stored, generated and tracked will be used for recording for process repeatability. Also, all data stored can be pulled into the Build Report, which can be used as a sales tool, user story solution, and quality inspection solution to record the history of the production within a report.


Question 4: Can I pull Post-Processing, Finishing and Quality Inspection analytics?

Link3D has over 40 to 50 off-the-shelf data analytic reports that are displayed in a configurable real-time dashboard. These reports were designed to enable C-level executives, facility managers, application engineers, procurement, project managers, account managers to better understand their role, OKRs, KPIs and metrics.

Data can be captured on a high-level and to a specific build itself. For example, if you’re conducting a heat treatment, your facility can record the temperature related to the process, this can be pulled into a data and analytics reports, and can even be pushed into the build report.

Each step of the downstream manufacturing process, as long as the correct information is entered or pulled, data can be shown in real-time.


Question 5: Is there automated Yield Management?

To date, you can manually manage yield for production scheduling, post-processing, quality inspection and soon RMAs (Return Material Authorizations). To automate yield management, some from of scanning technology is necessary. If you have a barcode QA technology, then most definitely! We’ve integrated within the QA process, scanning abilities were machine technicians can go in and track the yield.


Question 6: Can you include questionnaires or upload files to work plans for quality management purposes?

When OEMs, Service Bureaus, Materials Management Companies and other businesses part of the additive manufacturing ecosystem are creating their work plans, they can also configure the templates.

Different work plan logics can be setup to capture the relevant data. This is often useful for entering instructions for processing the order, questions that must be answered for ISO 9001, AS9100, ITAR and other relevant quality management questionnaires needed to satisfy certification requirements.

For example:

  • [Y/N] Has the powder been evacuated?
  • [Y/N] Was the virgin material recycled for prototypes?

When configuring your work plan templates, easily design the questionnaire to capture the data in the most optimal way, e.g.: drop-down fields, multi-pick lists, text area, file uploads. You can create any type of logic with the work plan to capture data and ensure process repeatability.


Question 7: Is it possible to integrate into the Link3D Additive MES platform from different 3D printer, post-processing, machining and quality inspection hardware?

Think of Link3D Additive MES as a base architecture like iOS for Apple products. If you have an Apple smartphone, all applications operate on iOS, introducing different technologies that drive efficiencies.

As for Link3D, our applications include simulations for costing, upstream and downstream processes that are standard when using our platform. What’s interesting about Link3D’s end-to-end additive manufacturing solution is that you do have the ability to integrate other types of software like CAD, PLM, PDM, ERP, MES, build preparation software and even Salesforce and Quickbooks. If these software solutions have the closed or open APIs for architecture integration, organizations can integrate any of their 3D printing, supply chain and accounting platforms with our AM platform.

Link3D was designed with an open architecture. We want to make sure these systems are connected to ensure the Digital Twin is stored across the Digital Thread. Even if Link3D has a MES system, and your organization has its own MES system, Link3D can still connect your frontend additive manufacturing workflows through Link3D and connect it with your downstream manufacturing workflows.

It is possible to connect with multiple software systems, Link3D takes a consultative approach to understand what data is important for your organization to push and/or pull data from each system. It is achievable as long as your solutions have an accessible architecture.


Question 8: If the underlying data model is customizable to the production facility based on our quality management requirements, how does the system lend itself to extract information into an external database to support Digital Thread and Digital Twin developments?

The underlying data model collected from Link3D Additive MES can be extracted through the closed APIs, CSV and XLS spreadsheets. Organizations using Tableau, Spotfire and other data visualization tools to process information across all their manufacturing capabilities and business operations can integrate through their Link3D’s API.

Link3D’s full analytics and reporting dashboards includes over 40-50 off-the-shelf reports, including machine utilization rates, material utilization rates, machine downtime, ROI per business units, additive manufacturing service types per business unit - and more. All these can help organizations better understand their business at a high-level, mid-level and day-to-day level to drive actionable insights.


Contact us at sales@link3d.co for more information!