Stratasys has announced details of its next generation FDM 3D printing technologies in the form of two “3D Demonstrators”, the Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator and the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator.
Unveiled at its Minneapolis headquarters yesterday, the 3D printing frontrunner showed how its 3D demonstrators are signalling a complete “step change” in the development of additive technologies. Both demonstrators are to go on display to the public for the first time at IMTS 2016 in Chicago next month.
The demonstrators have been developed in response to demand from customers and Stratasys’ growing partner network, which for these projects include high profile customers; The Boeing Company, Ford Motor Company and Siemens PLM Software.
Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator.
The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator is a scalable solution designed for large part production in the aerospace and automotive industries. The Demonstrator turns FDM technology on its side with the Z-axis horizontal to realize an infinite build approach and parts of any size. The machine benefits from a new extrusion system which uses micro pellet versions of Stratasys’ most commonly used materials such as Ultem 9085. It also boasts multi-material capabilities with automated material replacement and interchangeable toolheads.
Boeing is currently using the demonstrator to explore production of low volume lightweight parts whereas Ford is evaluating the technology and working with Stratasys to develop new applications for automotive-grade printing materials.
“Our vision at Ford is to make high-speed, high-quality printing of automotive-grade parts a reality,” Mike Whitens, director, Vehicle Enterprise Sciences, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, explained. “We are excited about the future opportunities that the scalable and versatile Infinite-Build concept can unlock, and look forward to collaborating with Stratasys to help achieve our goals.”
Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator.
The Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator has been developed with Siemens PLM Software and integrates additive manufacturing with industrial motion control hardware and design-to-print software. The traditional method of making composites is extremely labour intensive but this approach is set to transform the process with the ability to build complex, composite parts within hours. The system uses an 8-axis robotic arm to enable precise, directional material placement without the need for support structures to create lightweight, high value, composite parts quickly. Unlike the Infinite-Build, the machine uses the same traditional materials as previous Stratasys FDM machines. The primary use case is in interiors for aerospace, a somewhat niche application, but the hope is that the system will be scaled to fit addition customer applications.
“By working closely with Stratasys on motion control and CNC automation, Siemens is helping to create a flexible, multi-function manufacturing workflow that puts 3D printing firmly in the factory,” run Jain, VP, Motion Control, Digital Factory US, Siemens. “We look forward to continuing to work with Stratasys to build manufacturing solutions that transform industries.”
Stratasys’ decision to unveil 3D Demonstrators rather that a complete commercial product is an interesting but fitting choice that is inline with the company’s shift into focusing on the wider 3D ecosystem and customer centric solutions. The immediate goal is to give the technology a platform at IMTS to gain feedback from customers and THE manufacturing community to discover where changes can be made and how future users may be looking to implement these technologies into digitised manufacturing workflows.
Ilan Levin, CEO, Stratasys, commented: ”We view the level of factory integration, automation, and performance monitoring potentially offered by these new demonstrators as catalysts for the transformation to Industry 4.0. Stratasys invites all visitors to IMTS to see these new technologies, as well as our field-proven industrial additive manufacturing solutions, in action.”
Read more about Stratasys’ 3D Demonstrators in the next issue of TCT Magazine and see them in action on the show floor at IMTS booth N-60. Visitors to TCT Show in the UK next month can also hear from Siemens PLM Software at the TCT Show Conference on 29th September. Register for FREE to attend.
3D printing is at the frontline when it comes to the future of business technology. In this dynamic webinar, two industry experts will engage in a lively discussion of what 3D printing can do for your business. Watch now for free.