I don’t know if it’s a “Yogi Berra” type quote, but supposedly the artist Michaelangelo once said that when he was sculpting an image he just chipped away everything that wasn’t that image until he uncovered the object. Sometimes you can’t make a product by cutting away everything that isn’t.
Additive manufacturing product and technology news fills my inbox lately. 3D printing, or manufacturing by adding material rather than removing material, fills a need where the more common methods just cannot produce the required part. With setup usually less intensive, sometimes this is best for small runs or one-off part production.
Following are news items from Essentium, Hexagon, and Stratasys.
Additive Solutions to Unlock Distributed and Sustainable Manufacturing at Scale
Essentium Inc. announced next-generation AM solutions that unlock throughput, performance, and competitive 3D printed part production. These solutions feature key innovations across machines, materials, and software to enable distributed and sustainable manufacturing at scale.
To meet growing worldwide demand for more choice in materials for production-scale 3D manufactured parts, Essentium is introducing Essentium PPS-CF, a 15% carbon fiber reinforced polyphenylene sulfide filament (PPS) made with LUVOCOM 3F resin from LEHVOSS Group. PPS is a semicrystalline, high-performance polymer often used in numerous challenging applications in various industries. This material has an outstanding price-to-performance ratio with exceptional strength, stiffness, temperature, chemical and wear resistance. PPS is suitable in many cases instead of higher-priced super polymers as PAEKs (PEEK, PEKK).
Essentium PPS-CF is the primary tooling material for injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming, and expanded polystyrene foam molding. Manufacturers can replace many CNC aluminum soft tools with PPS-CF as it acts as a light-duty metal replacement, particularly where corrosion and chemical resistance are required.
To ensure high-quality parts fabrication, industrial-scale AM requires significant machine monitoring as a part moves from conception through production. The company also launched a mobile app to help additive manufacturers remotely monitor 3D printed part production. The Essentium Mobile App connects to an internal camera offered in the Essentium HSE 240 HT Dual Extruder 3D Printer, allowing real-time monitoring of 3D prints to provide manufacturers greater transparency of their manufacturing processes. Monitoring remotely throughout the digital thread means manufacturers can evaluate machine and part performance more efficiently and minimize time to printed parts.
Essentium Independent Research Reveals Additive Manufacturing is Now a Serial Production Process
Essentium Inc. also announced the first in a series of findings from independent global research on the current and future use of industrial 3D printing. The fourth annual study reveals that the use of large-scale AM has more than doubled in the past year for 86 percent of manufacturing companies.
The survey results show that AM is here to stay and has evolved beyond prototyping to become an essential component in the large-scale production of functional parts. The number of companies that have shifted to using AM for full-scale production runs of hundreds of thousands of parts has increased from 14 percent in 2020 to 24 percent in 2021, and only 1 percent use 3D printing for less than 10 parts compared to 17 percent four years ago.
The survey found that the most important drivers for a company’s adoption of 3D printing for large scale production were its ability to:
- Improve part performance [55%]
- Increase design freedom [45%]
- Overcome supply chain issues [30%]
- Lower production costs [24%]
The majority [96 percent] of respondents think that the manufacturing industry could save billions of dollars in production costs as 3D printing technology matures. However, as they think about future-proofing their investment in 3D printing at scale, the key strategic considerations include:
- 3D printing will integrate with existing machinery and work in practice on the factory floor [50%]
- Designers and engineers acquire specific “design for 3D printing” knowledge and techniques [39%]
- Finance teams develop a deeper understanding of cost and value implications [38%]
- Long-term availability of materials for parts and tooling [33%]
Hexagon Introduces an Open Ecosystem Strategy
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has revealed its plans to build the industry’s most flexible and open additive manufacturing (AM) ecosystem to help overcome complexities in 3D printing processes and support customers in effectively building their product development and manufacturing workflows.
The company announced several additions to its ecosystem at Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany including—Sciaky, Meltio, CADS Additive, AMcubator and Additive Center.
Paolo Guglielmini, president of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “Far from Industry 4.0 creating a ´connected´ end-to-end supply chain, today many 3D printers and protocols are creating ´walled kingdoms´ of hardware that are incompatible with certain CAE tools, and vendors are introducing machines with proprietary connectivity, standards and protocols designed not to work with machinery from rivals.
“Just as large manufacturers drove the provision of open factory automation, it’s important we vendors now break down barriers to new manufacturing technologies that offer more flexibility and efficiency. Instead, open data standards should be seen as a growth enabler.”
Hexagon’s AM ecosystem offers customers a broad spectrum of solutions as a result of working closely with material suppliers (e.g., Solvay, COVESTRO), printer and machine-tool companies (e.g., Stratasys, Markforged, Renishaw, Additive Industries, Sciaky, GEFERTEC, Meltio), software and platform providers (e.g., Authentise, CADS Additive, Elise), and service bureaus. Through open collaboration, it is helping manufacturers to build confidence in performance, quality, and repeatability, while allowing customers to integrate new AM technologies with their existing solutions, tools and workflows. Solutions that leverage Hexagon and ecosystem partners are used by every part of the supply chain, from part producers to global OEMs, with the common aim of producing high quality parts to global industrial standards.
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has a consultative approach, developing long-term relationships with the biggest players in global manufacturing, as well as disruptive new players. With a community of more than 500,000 users, its product development and manufacturing technologies are used throughout the supply chain. Hexagon also invests 10% of net sales in R&D and holds thousands of active patents. In additive manufacturing, the company collaborates with leading research institutes and projects, including the EU MANUELA project, Lift, RMIT University, Purdue University, Materials Innovation Guild (MIG) at the University of Louisville, and more. It is also an active contributor to the development of emerging standards, including ASTM International groups, the 3MF Consortium in November 2021 to contribute to the development of effective interoperability between additive manufacturing software tools.
Stratasys Announces New Open Material Options for 3D Printing
Stratasys announced a new open tier of third-party materials for FDM 3D printers via an annual Open Material License. The company is already providing open material availability on Neo stereolithography 3D printers, as well as the recently announced Stratasys Origin One and Stratasys H350 3D printers.
Stratasys has been rapidly expanding its materials ecosystem this year across P3, SAF, and stereolithography 3D printing systems, giving customers a range of material offerings. For example, in September, the company introduced an Open Material License for the P3-based Origin One along with two new materials from Loctite by Henkel. Stratasys is now bringing accelerated material innovation to the most popular and reliable FDM systems in the industry.
The Stratasys Material Ecosystem includes:
- Stratasys Preferred: Preferred by Stratasys for its customers for the highest performance applications. These materials are engineered to provide the best combination of material and printer performance and are developed either by Stratasys or third-party material partners.
- Stratasys Validated: Materials validated by Stratasys with basic reliability testing to accelerate the expansion of material options available in the marketplace.
- Open: Unvalidated materials accessed via an Open Material License (OML). These materials may offer unique attributes and the potential to address new applications but they have not received validation testing or optimization relative to performance and functionality on a Stratasys printer.
Stratasys-Validated materials are expected to be available to customers of FDM 3D printers during the second half of 2022, starting with the Fortus 450mc.
Stratasys now provides a progressively managed open-material ecosystem for the industry’s most comprehensive polymer additive technologies, delivering the broadest range of optimized and validated materials. Through GrabCAD Print software, customers will now have access to system print parameters to refine material capabilities as needed, optimizing part performance. All Stratasys Preferred materials and Validated materials for Stratasys systems are available for purchase through Stratasys and reseller partner
Stratasys Introduces GrabCAD Print Software for the Stratasys H350 3D Printer
Stratasys introduced GrabCAD Print for the SAF-powered Stratasys H350 3D printer. The enhanced version of GrabCAD Print, in combination with the H350, gives users the power to scale their additive manufacturing to production levels.
Stratasys recently introduced the GrabCAD Additive Manufacturing Platform, which enables two-way connectivity between 3D printers, additive manufacturing and enterprise applications, and broader Industry 4.0 infrastructure. The open and enterprise-ready platform brings together GrabCAD applications and third-party GrabCAD Software Partners via the GrabCAD Software Development Kit (SDK). This is designed to allow manufacturers to manage their production-scale additive manufacturing operations across the entire digital thread – from design through production.
GrabCAD Print for the H350 ensures that the end-to-end workflow from digital design to physical part across the manufacturing enterprise is easy, accessible, affordable and connected. The software has been upgraded to provide advanced print capabilities that give users the ability to stack and nest parts automatically or manually to maximize packing density and print hundreds to thousands of parts in a single build volume. Further, because the application is built on the GrabCAD Additive Manufacturing Platform, Stratasys H350 users have access to additional core applications like GrabCAD Print Mobile, GrabCAD Shop, reporting and analytics, and machine connectivity which will allow them to easily integrate their H350 with enterprise systems and Software Partner solutions.
GrabCAD Print is available for H350 3D printer beta users today, an annual software license of can be purchased for $7,999 USD.
Stratasys Partners With ECCO to Innovate Footwear Manufacturing Using 3D Printing Technology
Stratasys announced that Danish shoe manufacturer ECCO is using Stratasys Origin One 3D printing technology to accelerate product development, allowing conceptual footwear samples to be reviewed early in the development cycle using 3D printed molds and lasts (mechanical forms shaped like a foot) with resin materials from Henkel Loctite.
Shoemaking is an incredibly manual process, but ECCO has worked to integrate innovative technologies into their shoemaking, allowing for increased automation and a more streamlined development process. One such innovation has been the Direct Injection Process (DIP). This process has given ECCO numerous benefits including an efficient and reliable method of securing the upper part of the shoe to the midsole.
To help further innovate shoemaking and the DIP, ECCO turned to additive manufacturing with the Origin One 3D printer using Stratasys’ proprietary P3 technology. ECCO is using the printers in their Portugal and Denmark development facilities to 3D print molds and shoe lasts for development purposes that match the quality requirements of their CNC-machined aluminum counterparts. The molds and lasts, printed from a photopolymer from Henkel Loctite, are faster to produce, and the new process costs significantly less than CNC machining aluminum.
Stratasys partnered with materials providers to test a variety of resins that would meet ECCO’s needs, choosing a formulation from Henkel’s Loctite 3D Printing that was formulated to meet the specific requirements of the DIP process. The combination of Stratasys Origin One 3D printing technology and custom Henkel materials has given ECCO the ability to create shoe molds that endure thousands of shots with zero visible degradation. Further, the quality of the shoe produced using additive manufacturing technology is on par with those produced using traditional CNC machined aluminum molds.
By 3D printing the DIP molds instead of machining them, a single pair of mold inserts can be printed overnight, significantly more cost-efficient than that of an in-house CNC machined pair of molds. This enables designers and developers to test functional shoes earlier in the development cycle, allowing product teams to confirm the fit and comfort of new styles. Further, branded customers can more easily place real production shoes, in more varieties, in the hands of their potential customers for feedback and pre-sale opportunities earlier in the shoemaking process. Finally, ECCO can now quickly produce mold inserts at the location that needs them, eliminating the need to ship heavy metal molds, reducing costs, and minimizing the risk of shipping delays or tariffs.
For the wider footwear industry that want to take advantage of 3D printed DIP tooling, ECCO has several flexible routes to market with the ability to assist with every aspect of footwear manufacturing and mold making including engineering, part production, or licensing of IP.