Stratasys, Siemens partner to advance AM into volume production

The partnership aims to strengthen and expand the benefits of 3D printing in the manufacturing value chain.

Stratasys Inc. (Minneapolis) and Siemens (Berlin and Munich) have established a partnership to integrate Siemens’ Digital Factory offerings with Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions. The partnership is intended to lay the foundation for the two companies to fulfill their shared vision of incorporating additive manufacturing into the traditional manufacturing workflow.

Stratasys and Siemens have been collaborating on multiple projects including the direct link from Siemens’ NX software for CAD/CAM/CAE to Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print platform – enabling a seamless design-to-3D print workflow – and the recently previewed Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator that incorporates Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software and its motion control and CNC automation technologies, to produce strong, lightweight performance parts. (For more info, check out Stratasys debuts Robotic Composite and Infinite-Build 3D printers). 

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 challenges.

“With our complete 3D printing ecosystem of customer applications, hardware and software platforms, advanced material offerings and consulting services, Stratasys is uniquely positioned to help manufacturers leverage 3D printing to transform their business models,” says Dan Yalon, executive vice president of products, Stratasys. “Stratasys is excited to formalize our partnership with Siemens and views it as a major catalyst for the industrialization of additive manufacturing. Together, our companies are joining forces to create a cohesive, best-of-breed technology foundation that enables large-scale manufacturers to enjoy the benefits of additive manufacturing in traditional production environments. 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.”

Stratasys and Siemens are showcasing their additive manufacturing solutions at the formnext 2016 exhibition in Frankfurt. Stratasys’ Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator is being featured in a virtual 3D printing experience at the Stratasys booth, Hall 3.1, Stand H40. In addition, Siemens is demonstrating its end-to-end additive manufacturing software solution along with its scalable hardware platform for motion control and relevant manufacturing processes in Hall 3.1, Stand J20.

At the core of the 3D Demonstrator is Stratasys’ advanced FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) Additive Manufacturing technology synchronized to complex multi-axis motion. It features Stratasys’ extensible and scalable multi-operation architecture that reportedly provides the flexibility to integrate subtractive manufacturing, inline inspection and verification and product finishing. Stratasys engineered materials are employed to produce structures that are optimized for weight and performance. The result is a new hybrid manufacturing approach that is"unconstrained by the traditional limitations of composite lay-up and the layer-by-layer limitations and support material requirements of traditional 3D printing," the company stated.

The new workflow for the Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator begins with Siemens’ NX software. NX 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. Throughout the manufacturing process, performance is controlled and communicated directly to the manufacturing operations management systems. The result is a seamless CAD-to-product workflow that streamlines production and ensures end-to-end traceability and part quality.

The motion control for the Stratasys Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator is driven by the Siemens’ Sinumerik 840D sl CNC. The open architecture of Sinumerik control combines the strengths of Siemens’ NC with flexible robot kinematics. The integration with Stratasys’ extrusion control technologies to execute manufacturing instructions from NX CAM, results in a high degree of freedom for robotic FDM extrusion.