3D print service Sintavia announced they have acquired QC Labs.
Sintavia is a Florida-based service bureau providing a series of manufacturing processes for the aerospace and defense industries. Their services include design, advanced manufacturing using 3D printers, metallurgy, powder analysis, mechanical testing, post-processing and 3D scanning.
Most recently Sintavia opened a massive 55,000-square-foot facility that includes at least sixteen industrial metal 3D printers from EOS, TRUMPF, SLM and Concept Laser.
But who is QC Labs? They are a quality control testing service (hence their name), that specializes in “nondestructive testing”. This is an important distinction from traditional testing services in which sample parts are literally destroyed during the testing. In nondestructive testing, alternative means that leave the objects undamaged are used to perform the tests.
Nondestructive testing is actually quite important in 3D printing, particularly for metal 3D prints that are incredibly expensive and time consuming to produce. While a traditional mass manufacturer could easily spare a few extra units from the thousands being produced for testing, that’s not the case with 3D printing.
A complex metal 3D print might take several days to complete printing and post-processing, and cost many thousands of dollars to get it. “Throwing it away” for testing is therefore an expensive proposition. Meanwhile, nondestructive testing is a much more economical approach for 3D printed parts, assuming that style of testing is appropriate and suitable for the application.
This acquisition is interesting, as it adds to Sintavia’s already comprehensive capabilities. Doug Hedges, Sintavia’s President and Chief Technology Officer, explains:
“We have worked with QC Labs for a number of years to develop surface finish inspection metrics that are relevant for the additive manufacturing industry. Today’s announcement is a natural extension of this same process, and we are looking forward to deepening the relationship with QC Labs as we continue to develop acceptable NDT metrics for production AM components.”
When you look at Sintavia’s comprehensive list of services it seems they are, like some other operations, attempting to secure capabilities in the entire manufacturing workflow, from end to end. With that capability they can capture more business from clients who won’t want to bother finding alternative sources for particular steps in the workflow.
This is a very typical, and typically successful, move made by companies: if two parties are constantly working together very well, it sometimes makes sense to merge them together. That can optimize the process flow between the parties in ways that could not be achieved if separate entities.
However, Sintavia also says:
“Post-closing, it is expected that QC Labs will operate as a stand-alone subsidiary of Sintavia.”
QC Labs Sold
It seems that QC Labs was founded in 1965, so it is possible the owners of the company wanted to get out of the business and positioned it for sale after so many years of operation, also a very typical corporate scenario. But that should be good news for Sintavia, who now have their own quality control nondestructive testing unit on hand.
One additional possibility that was unsaid was whether QC Labs will provide testing services for Sintavia’s competitors. If that’s the case — and we have no idea if so — then it could be bad news for certain other 3D print services that might have to find alternative testing services.