Throughput| Bluestreak | Bright AM™: A Pioneer in Additive Manufacturing Production...
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Throughput| Bluestreak | Bright AM™: A Pioneer in Additive Manufacturing Production Control and Quality Management

Todd Wenzel, President & CTO, Throughput| Bluestreak | Bright AM™Todd Wenzel, President & CTO
Additive manufacturing (AM) is enabling companies to develop products that were previously considered complex, in a quicker and more economical way. However, companies still face practical challenges in incorporating 3D printing into their manufacturing scheme. Ensuring quality, repeatability, and reliability of AM products is a key consideration, especially in the heavily-regulated aerospace, defense and medical industries.

Addressing the unique requirements of the AM industry is Throughput Consulting’s Bluestreak | Bright AM™, an MES/QMS solution that mitigates the challenges of AM production facilities. Founded in 2005, the company offers production control software solutions for an array of tasks, such as heat-treating, powder coating, additive manufacturing, liquid and other coating, plating, forging, and surface finishing. The Throughput |Bluestreak MES/QMS software and Bright AM portfolio is dedicated to manufacturing process control, work order management, QA/ QC and industry specification adherence.

“Our MES / QMS solution is a unified system with one all-encompassing database that is equipped to manage data and give real-time visibility into the production environment, and it eliminates confusing paper trails and disparate silos of redundant data,” says Todd Wenzel, president and CTO, Throughput Consulting Inc.

In many AM production facilities, unique serialization is an essential aspect of the entire part-build process, as it enables traceability of the build throughout its lifecycle, even if multiple parts are printed on one build plate. Advanced dispositioning is another Bluestreak | Bright AM™ feature, including management of nonconformances, scrap disposition control, and the ability to allow ‘parts’ to go down different processing paths without breaking the audit trail.

In order to bring more transparency and to simplify the process, Throughput | Bluestreak has developed a specific functionality in their Bright AM™ system including managing multiple projects, development queues, equipment maintenance, inventory control, and document management for internal or external audits, to name a few.

The company has custom-made solutions for typical manufacturing processes—heat treating, powder coating, forging, surface finishing, etc.—that may take place along with AM. Referring to a typical production process, Wenzel explains how the MES/QMS solutions from Throughput | Bluestreak function to meet the specific needs of a manufacturing process. A part manufactured through an AM process might still need to be heat-treated, machined or coated and thus different work areas within a production facility undertake separate operations which need to be included in the overall part/build process.

Wenzel further elaborates on a real-life use case of the software platform, by citing an example of the utilization of raw materials—metal powder. As some of the part/build processes are restricted to using only virgin metal powder, others may allow mixing powders; in such cases, tracking the usage of raw materials and keeping a record of the same is essential. Along with tracking the raw material batches and blends, Bluestreak can also assign quality characteristics to individual work order steps and can collect quality data in real-time.

In addition to providing custom software solutions, Throughput also focuses on giving extensive onsite and online training for their clients, to augment their extensive video training library.

“Recognizing the value of 3D printing and the transformation it can bring to the industry, we are focusing more on additive manufacturing production processes,” adds Wenzel. Throughput | Bluestreak has just rolled out its newest product, Bright AM™ that caters to the exclusive requirements of additive manufacturing and is already being used by some of the largest and most progressive 3D printing facilities in the world. As the manufacturing industry is highly dynamic, the company has foreseen the future and is embracing the transformation that 3D printing can bring to the manufacturing industry.