As 3D printing continues to make its way into manufacturing, more and more companies are looking to overcome barriers to adoption. One of them, which is attracting more and more attention, is related to the traceability of a part. It is often feared that parts made by additive manufacturingare at risk of counterfeiting due to the digital nature of the files, which can be easily duplicated and stolen.
Not to mention, as more and more companies get into qualifying parts, it's also important to know their full history so you can check every step of the process and materials used.
For these reasons, PrintParts, a New York startup, created the SmartParts which allow end-to-end traceability of any 3D printed part. We spoke with Aundera Shcroder, Communications Director of PrintParts, to learn more about the company, its SmartParts, and the importance of traceability in additive manufacturing.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and explain your connection to 3D printing?
I'm Aundera Schroder, Director of Communications at PrintParts. I have a background in design and marketing, initially in fashion and photography. Additive manufacturing appealed to me because of its physical nature and the ability to take a concept from initial design to prototyping and finished product.
I spent over two years working on marketing for Link3D, which was recently acquired by Materialise. In this role, I began to realize how critical digital transformation efforts were for manufacturing companies, and when the opportunity arose to join PrintParts and develop the branding and positioning strategy on the market for SmartParts, it was only natural.
Initially, I helped the team tell the story of PrintParts and the amazing work they've done to support New York City during COVID, and raise the profile of the organization as a partner trusted manufacturer. Currently, I am working on introducing our SmartParts integrated traceability solution to the market, which as a new technology requires a good deal of education and evangelism.
I'm proud to say that we've won several awards for SmartParts, including the Formnext 2021 Startup Innovation Challenge , US Navy's Hack The Machine Challenge, and most recently Hexagon's Sixth Sense Innovation Program.
3DN: How did the idea of creating PrintParts come about? What is his mission ?
PrintParts began as a production-focused New York-based additive manufacturing services bureau. The idea for PrintParts originated when CEO and Founder Robert Haleluk was working in the injection molding industry and saw a growing demand for additive manufacturing at the production level.
Leveraging his manufacturing expertise, he founded PrintParts to provide high-quality, production-grade additive manufacturing services to customers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, and aerospace industries. and industrial manufacturing.
While working to deliver production orders to customers, Robert identified traceability as a major barrier to his customers' trust in additive manufacturing.
He was joined in early 2020 by Cody Burke, an additive manufacturing industry veteran who had spent the previous 8 years at Stratasys leading investor relations and working on strategic planning projects. Robert and Cody developed the idea of SmartParts – an integrated solution to provide true end-to-end traceability for the additive manufacturing industry.
Today, PrintParts is a provider of advanced manufacturing technologies on a mission to build trust in additive manufacturing by providing high quality production services and creating a new standard for traceability and authentication with SmartParts.
3DN: Can you tell us more about the services offered by PrintParts?
PrintParts offers additive manufacturing production services and advanced application development around SmartParts. The company has a fleet of over 50 printers, including FFF, FDM , SLA , DLP and SLS technologies . The largest concentration of our systems is for the production of carbon fiber composite parts, with the ability to ship over 10,000 parts per week.
Our most significant project was in 2020, when the company served as the prime contractor for New York City's COVID response by expanding its operations with an FDA-compliant Class 1 medical device lab and ISO-13485, which produced over 1.5 million 3D-printed nasal swabs over a 6-month period.
Around 70% of current business consists of production orders from manufacturing organizations that are working to incorporate additive manufacturing into their quality management systems. We are constantly learning from these customers, and letting those lessons guide the development of the SmartParts solution.
PrintParts is currently embedding SmartParts technology in the parts it ships to select customers. Participating customers have the opportunity to trace back to PrintParts as the supplier, verify the materials used and confirm compliance with manufacturing specifications.
3DN: What about SmartParts? What need do they meet?
SmartParts connects digital assets to physical parts to provide end-to-end traceability. With SmartParts, it is possible to verify the authenticity of materials and parts with a simple portable scan. Our integrated solution, comprised of smart material markers, scanners and the SmartParts cloud platform, makes it easy to authenticate materials and retrieve manufacturing data associated with physical assets. We enable rapid and flexible traceability of materials across the supply and manufacturing value chain, enabling organizations to:
- Fight against counterfeiting
- Easily add built-in lot and batch traceability.
- Prove source of origin of materials to comply with ESG and ITAR requirements
- And, soon, serialize the individual parts
SmartParts' exclusive smart material markers consist of programmable particles embedded in additive materials or added to parts in post-processing. Programmable particles convert energy from one wavelength to another, and highly tunable properties add levels of control that can be used to create trillions of unique identifiers.
SmartParts scanners recognize unique identifiers based on the specific energy response and reference the SmartParts Cloud platform to retrieve digital manufacturing records linked to that identifier. Scanner offerings range from binary solutions allowing simple authentication to more complex solutions for increased levels of traceability.
3DN: Why is it important to be able to scan and track parts? And how does this technology work?
Many of our customers are looking to adopt additive manufacturing for production because of the benefits it offers, such as reduced lead times, increased durability and reduced inventory costs. However, additive manufacturing also poses traceability risks because digital design files are easy to reproduce, distribute, and manufacture.
Customers therefore have legitimate concerns regarding material verification, supplier management, and authentication of manufacturing data. To advance the additive manufacturing industry to real production applications, we need to introduce technology that solves these problems and provides the security, as well as the traceability, that companies expect.
Generally speaking, counterfeiting is becoming a growing problem in the manufacturing industry, compounded by the impact of COVID and recent geopolitical tensions that have disrupted global trade. For example, it is estimated that more than 8% of medical devices in circulation are fakes, and more than half a million counterfeit parts are placed on airplanes each year. The adoption of additive technology has the potential to exacerbate these trends, as the cost of deploying high-quality production technologies is reduced.
We are also seeing increased interest from organizations looking to verify compliance with ESG regulations by adding traceability solutions that can prove the original source of materials and parts.
3DN: A last word for our readers?
Simply put, SmartParts connects digital records to physical assets and is a natural extension of our PrintParts production services offering. We have plenty of opportunities to deploy our technology to solve critical issues in manufacturing, as well as emerging applications around digital property rights related to physical goods with NFTs and related web3 technologies. We have some exciting announcements in the works for the rest of the year, and we can't wait to let you know.