Stratasys and Siemens partner to incorporate AM into volume production

2 min read

The plastic additive manufacturing (AM) machine manufacturer Stratasys and digital control systems vendor Siemens have begun a formal partnership to couple Siemens’ digital factory solutions with Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions.

The partnership is intended to pursue a shared vision of incorporating additive manufacturing into the traditional manufacturing workflow, helping it to become a universally recognised production practice in industries including aerospace, automotive, transportation, energy and industrial tooling.

Stratasys and Siemens have been collaborating on multiple projects including a direct link from Siemens’ NX software for CAD/CAM/CAE to Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print platform, which was formally launched in November – enabling a design-to-3D print workflow. A cloud-based application, GrabCAD Print reads CAD files natively and eliminates or minimises the need to export to STL, streamlining the design-to-3D-print workflow.

The two companies have also worked together on the Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator that was shown at the IMTS show in Chicago in September, and at the Formnext event in Stuttgart in November. The machine consists of a robot arm holding an FDM plastic extruder and rotating tilting table that work together to create freeform parts out of a material that includes carbon fibre. It incorporates Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software and its motion control and CNC automation technologies from the Sinumerik 840D sl CNC controller. The new workflow for the Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator begins with Siemens’ NX software that enables designers to create parts to be produced on the system, simulate and evaluate the design for manufacturability and generate and send all the manufacturing instructions for part production. The Stratasys extrusion control executes manufacturing instructions from NX CAM. Throughout the manufacturing process, performance is controlled and communicated directly to the manufacturing operations management systems. The result is a CAD-to-product workflow that streamlines production and ensures end-to-end traceability and part quality.

The companies said that while additive manufacturing technology has made great strides over the past years, additional criteria are required for it to take its place in volume production environments and become as commonplace as CNC. Ideally, additive manufacturing solutions should deliver robust, repeatable and reliable operational performance with predictable properties across a broad portfolio of materials that are certifiable for specific applications and that are driven by a seamless, digital integration from design to production. Together, Stratasys and Siemens plan to address these issues.

Zvi Feuer, senior vice president manufacturing engineering software at Siemens PLM Software, says: “Siemens is enthusiastic about this partnership with Stratasys and the opportunity to help our customers adopt a new manufacturing mindset that we believe will result in better products produced more economically and delivered more efficiently. We are committed to the industrialization of additive manufacturing with all of its unique advantages, including complex part geometries, on-demand production and mass customisation. This relationship helps set the course for continued innovation and leadership through the tight integration of our product lines and through collaboration on comprehensive additive manufacturing solutions.”

Dan Yalon, Stratasys executive vice president, products, says: “Stratasys is excited to formalise our partnership with Siemens and views it as a major catalyst for the industrialisation of additive manufacturing. We believe that the impact on production practices will begin sooner rather than later with the aerospace, automotive and factory tooling industries expected to benefit first.”

  • In other news, Stratasys has launched the second generation of its large-capacity plastic 3D printer, the Fortus 900mc, capacity 914 by 609 by 914 mm, that is said to offer a streamlined workflow and easier job monitoring thanks to an internal camera and GrabCAD print software. It is able to print parts in a newly-released material, Stratasys FDM Nylon 6, an engineering-grade material suitable for a range of applications requiring high tensile strength.