Stratasys has unveiled two new 3D printing technologies developed in partnerships with major manufacturers that will build bigger stronger, higher quality parts.
The new 3D demonstrator technologies, which are not yet commercially available, are being co-developed with aerospace giant Boeing and Siemens for applications in the automotive and aviation industries. Ford is also partnering with Stratasys to explore applications for the new technologies.
Both new demonstrators expand Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling technology across manufacturing, allowing for the production of bigger, stronger and higher quality parts.
The Infinite-Build 3D demonstrator focuses on producing large lightweight thermoplastic parts and tools with repeatable mechanical properties, while the Robotic Composite 3D demonstrator incorporates Siemens' technology for the automated production of composite structures.
Arun Jain, vice president for Motion Control, Digital Factory US, Siemens, says: “Siemens is pleased to support Stratasys in their innovative additive manufacturing initiatives, of which the Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator is one of the most promising. 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. We look forward to continuing to work with Stratasys to build manufacturing solutions that transform industries.”
Stratasys says the Infinite-Build demonstrator system turns the traditional 3D printer concept on its side in order to realise an “infinite build” approach, which prints on a vertical plane for a practically unlimited part size in the build direction.
Meanwhile, aerospace giant Boeing played an influential role in defining the requirements and specifications for the Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator technology, which explores the production of low-volume, lightweight parts. Boeing is currently using an Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator to explore the production of low volume, lightweight parts.
Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, says: “Additive manufacturing represents a great opportunity for Boeing and our customers, so we made a strategic decision more than a decade ago to work closely with Stratasys on this technology. We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost and weight of aircraft structures, or reduce the time it takes to prototype and test new tools and products so we can provide them to customers in a more affordable and rapid manner. The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D demonstrator enables products to be made at a much larger and potentially unlimited length, offering us a breakthrough tool to add to our robust additive manufacturing processes.”
US car giant Ford is also exploring innovative automotive manufacturing applications for the Stratasys Infinite-Build technology. It has been using additive manufacturing technology for 30 years for prototyping and now wants to use for exploring its more functional applications. Ford and Stratasys will work together to test and develop new applications for automotive-grade 3D printed materials that were not previously possible due to limited size, enabling and accelerating innovative automotive product design.
Mike Whitens, director of Vehicle Enterprise Sciences, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, says: “3D printing holds the promise of changing automotive design and manufacturing because it opens up new ways to innovate and create efficiencies in production. Our vision at Ford is to make high-speed, high-quality printing of automotive-grade parts a reality. 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.”
Meanwhile. Stratasys has developed the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator integrating its core additive manufacturing technologies with industrial motion control hardware and design-to-3D printing software capabilities provided by Siemens. This Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator is designed to revolutionise the 3D printing of composite parts by using an eight-axis motion system that enables precise directional material placement for strength while also reducing dramatically the need for speed hindering support strategies.
Stratasys says this redefines how future lightweight parts will be built, and provides a glimpse into how this technology could be used to accelerate the production of parts made from a wide variety of materials.
Ilan Levin, Stratasys' chief executive, says: “We are building on our success in manufacturing with applications such as manufacturing aids, injection moulds and composite tooling, and leveraging our relationships with innovative industry leaders to further extend the applicability of additive manufacturing in demanding production environments. 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.”