This year was special for Additive Manufacturing Belgian giant, Materialise as it marks its 30th anniversary in the additive manufacturing industry. In three decades, Materialise has built up a substantial business, and has played its part in making additive manufacturing efficient, reliable, meaningful, and scalable.
The company is now gearing up towards the fourth decade by sharing its expertise with those who would like to thrive in the AM world and by addressing global sustainability challenges.
Their first major step they take to enter this decade was to sit down with the industry and media, to share these goals. In this vein, yesterday saw the launch of their “Think-In” series, a corporate event that shed light on their new vision with a key focus on first announcements that will shape this vision.
With a key focus on creating path towards eliminating waste in 3D printing, Materialise has launched Bluesint PA12, the Materialise Process Tuner, Magics Storefront as well as new features of Magics 25.
On the road of the fourth decade of AM
This first action is the Bluesint PA12, a technology that makes it possible to print with up to 100% re-used powder, drastically increasing the resource efficiency of laser sintering. Bluesint PA12 is the first solution that results from the use of Laser Sintering. With this process, up to 50% of the powder becomes waste and recycling used powder is limited. On the other hand, 3D printing with only used powder leads to surface problems that make the 3D printed part unsuitable for most applications.
The experts explain therefore that, with Bluesint PA12, powder that would normally be wasted can be given a second life to make new parts. Parts printed with Bluesint PA12 have similar mechanical and visual properties, allowing users to make a choice not only based on technical specifications but also on the environmental impact.
As charity begins at home, throughout 2021, Materialise will be using this powder on several Laser Sintering machines. Its objective? To re-use more than five tons of powder that would normally become waste.
Furthermore, a few customers that make sustainability a priority will take part in a beta program for Bluesint PA12 service.
Scaling up 3D printing production with Materialise Process turner
Scaling AM comes with an array of challenges including greater variability when it comes to 3D printed parts. The challenge is even greater for those who aspire to mass production as they need to go through validation of the 3D printing process for a single part (which can take up to 1,000 test samples and require dozens of test builds and weeks or even months of work).
To address these challenges, Materialise has imagined an online platform, the Materialise Process Turner, that would help organizations speed up this process for volume manufacturing.
The platform would reduce the amount of physical test prints required to find the optimal print settings would allow companies to scale up their 3D printing operations in a more sustainable way through advanced automation, Artificial Intelligence and smart simulations to predict sub-optimal prints.
“When we ask companies what the main obstacles are for scaling up their production, they tell us it’s too expensive, too complex and too time consuming. As a result, some companies think twice before scaling up,” said Stefaan Motte, VP and General Manager of Materialise Software. “With the Materialise Process Tuner, we allow them to find the optimal print settings without wasting machine and engineering time. In our own 3D printing factories we were able to reduce the cost per optimized parameter set by 50%, which is impressive.”
The Materialise Process Tuner can be accessed via a web-browser as well as through an API, making it the company’s first cloud-native Magics application. Companies can also choose to deploy and run the application on site.
An early adopter program has also been launched for this service that is set to be available in Q1 2021. In the meantime, organizations such as 3D printer and material manufacturers and companies that are preparing for serial AM can already register for the program.
Filling the gap between 3D print factories and their customers with Magics Storefront
One of the main challenges manufacturers faced with Covid-19 was direct contact with their customers. In the Covid-19 world that imposes digitalization as a new standard, companies have transformed their sales channels to adapt the new way of working.
In this vein, Materialise launches Magics Storefront, a new cloud-based e-commerce solution that automates the intake and sales process of 3D printing factories and facilitates communication with customers.
Designed for both internal and external service bureaus that deal with many incoming print orders per day and want to automate a number of these intake processes in an online environment, Storefront is a full e-commerce and CRM solution in one platform.
The company explains in a press communication that it supports automatic and manual price calculation and quoting; AM data preparation; order management; and integration with payment and shipment providers. Magics Storefront can be used as a standalone solution, but it also offers out-of-the-box integration with Materialise Streamics and Magics software. This combination creates flexibility for companies that deal with complex environments with multiple print technologies – no matter what combination of printers they have. Materialise Build Processor technology also makes it possible to receive instant feedback from the machines, making it possible to provide real-time updates to customers about the status of their print orders and any possible delays.
For now, the Magics storefront is still undergoing a beta program. It would be officially launched in the second quarter of 2021.
Introducing the 25th edition of Magics 25
In economic uncertain times, companies want to achieve more with less. With the introduction of the 25th edition of Magics, Materialise’s flagship software suite for data and build preparation, the company allows users to do exactly that: achieve more with less clicks.
Experienced Magics users will notice that the Fix Wizard, one of the most popular features in Magics, has been integrated into the tool pages. The Wizard still does what it does best: fixing parts to make them printable. But by integrating it in the tool pages, users can now see all errors at a glance and fix them with a single click.
Another usability feature is the Full Build Simulation for metal printing, part of the Simulation module. With Magics 25, users can simulate multiple parts at once, speeding up the simulation process and allowing them to predict the effect that parts may have on each other. The new edition of Magics also makes it possible to simulate the base plate together with the parts, signaling any deformation of the base plate that may impact the build.
“The global pandemic creates human suffering and comes with a tremendous economic cost. But in the destruction, we can already find the early seeds of renewal”, says Fried Vancraen, Founder and CEO of Materialise. “At the start of the 4th decade of 3D printing, we are entering a decade of potentially radical innovation and creativity that will replace old and obsolete processes with solutions that better respond to a new reality. I believe this new reality will be more digital, more personalized and more sustainable.”
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