It’s been a very busy year for additive manufacturing pioneers Materialise. Celebrating their 25th birthday at the Materialise World Conference in Brussels last month, we got to see the many areas that the company is championing 3D technologies to create value applications from life-changing medical advances to cool, custom – or BAWSOME, 3D printed glasses.
On the RAPID showfloor, the company is showing no signs of slowing down with three announcements that are set to improve machine capabilities and software solutions. We spoke to Bryan Crutchfield, Managing Director at Materialise in the U.S. to get the latest.
First up is the Additive Manufacturing Engine, designed to enhance the AM process and bring current technology up to speed. “It’s the engine that drives the 3D printing machine from both a mechanical and control point of view,” Bryan commented. “We’ve been making these for many years for our mown machines but now we’re brining them to the market. They’re set up for FDM, SLS, SLA, DMLS - virtually any 3D printing technology out there.”
The platform gives 3D printing users more control and flexibility over their machines. It is an open engine which allows users to select their preferred lasers and materials for their desired application and record the process.
“There are three main users,” Bryan explained. “New machine manufacturers so they can come up to speed much faster. They can take advantage of the fact that we’ve had 400 developers for 25 years working in this space to get the machine to market. Second one is you can take all of those machines that are out there already and upgrade to the latest technology. Far cheaper buying a brand new one. Lastly if you’re working in a medical, aerospace or automotive environment where you have a product that’s been through a workflow that’s validated for regulatory purposes, it gives you the ability to capture and log data. We can install cameras or thermal imaging to monitor the build itself and create a feedback loop where the machine can potentially adjust certain parameters to try and maintain an operating window so you know you’re getting a good part as you build it.”
There are even more updates going on behind the scenes for the Leuven based company who have just launched the latest version of the 3-matic STL 10.0 software which has been given a fresh makeover to improve the interface and make it easier to use. The company’s medical imaging software, Mimics 18 has also undergone some major improvements in terms of accuracy.
“This particular version is more about the accuracy of the data,” Bryan explained. “Part of the need in the industry for 3D printing and medical right now is the ability to prove that its better; that the outcomes are better, that its cheaper, so we’ve started to concentrate on some tools that will allow the clinician or researcher to prove that yes it is better, cheaper, faster.”
For more updates from the RAPID showfloor, head to the RAPID 2015 Live Blog.