Materialise, which develops a wide range of 3D printing software, has announced a new version of its Streamics software, as well as a range of partnerships with HP, Nikon and Essentium in a growing sign that industry is taking 3D printing more seriously.
Thus Materialise has announced the latest edition of Streamics, now at version 8. This is a web-portal helps remote design departments interact with the production floor, allowing easier integration of the 3D Printing production environment with existing business and manufacturing IT systems.
Stefaan Motte, vice president and general manager of the Materialise software division, says that 3D production printing processes are often still working in isolated hubs, adding: “With the introduction of Streamics 8, our software tool to manage and streamline 3D printing operations, Materialise wants to transform those isolated hubs into productive and integrated production facilities, by connecting to existing production management systems and adding specific additive manufacturing execution capabilities.”
It also offers automatic nesting across multiple build platforms for a more efficient build preparation. This allows users to drag and drop multiple parts into the build planner, which then automatically nests the parts and creates the appropriate number of build operations, which should reduce costs.
It also introduces Digital Rights Management or DRM to 3D printing, making for a more secure way to share high value parts data across a global distributed manufacturing
network. Materialise says that it is working with partners to create a true end-to-end, secure 3D printing manufacturing process. This will users to restrict the printing of a file to a pre-defined printer and to limit the number of reprints.
Streamics 8 automatically stores all relevant build data, such as serial numbers, process parameters and part revisions. It supports both text labels and Data Matrix Labels, which convert the alphanumerical data from standard 3D-printed labels into a data matrix code that can be automatically applied to individual parts. These smart tags are smaller and machine-readable, reducing human error and further automating the post-production process.
In addition, Materialise has improved its machine monitoring through dedicated build processors for the likes of HP and Arcam, as well as supporting MTConnect to monitor some Stratasys 3D printers. The company is planning to support other machine communication standards, such as OPC-UA, in the future. Streamics 8 is due to be released in June 2019.
Materialise has obviously been busy, also using the Rapid+TCT conference to introduce version 2 of its Materialise Simulation software. This now allows operators to predict and analyze the behaviour of a part during physical production by creating a virtual prototype, which takes out a lot of the costly trial and error of 3D printing.
It’s said to be up to nine times faster for file management and is capable of handling larger files. New simulation features include ‘part compensation’, which allows users to predict and compensate heat-related part deformation. The new version also makes it possible to simulate heat diffusion, which prevents overheating during the print process. Materialise Simulation 2.0 is available as an optional module with Materialise Magics 23.
Materialise also announced several partnerships. Materialise has been working with HP for some time now but the two companies have expanded this collaboration, with Materialise developing a new version of its build processor to support HP’s range of Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. The Materialise HP Build Processor 2.0 allows users to retrieve operational data from the HP machines for better production monitoring. It works with Materialise Streamics software and allows users to store relevant build- data for improved traceability. It should be available in the second half of the year.
As part of this arrangement, anyone buying one of HP’s Jet Fusion 500/300 Series printers will also get six months access to the Materialise Magics Essentials software. This Materialise data preparation software gives advanced colour and texture handling
Materialise has also certified HP’s 3D printing technology as being fully compatible with its Mimics and Mimics inPrint software, which will allow HP’s customers to print full-colour anatomical models for diagnostic use and surgical planning. This takes advantage of the FDA clearance that Materialise has for software for 3D printing anatomical models for diagnostic and surgical planning uses. Materialise introduced a program for manufacturers to have their printers tested and validated, which now includes HP alongside Formlabs, Stratasys and Ultimaker.
Meanwhile, Materialise has announced that it’s working with the Japanese camera company Nikon to research into the 3D printing build process with the Materialise Control Platformto give users more control and to increase productivity through analysis of the building process.
Materialise has also signed a strategic partnership back in November with Essentium, which develops industrial additive manufacturing solutions. Thus Essentium is now working to integrate Materialise’s Magics Essentials software with its own High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3D Printing Platform. The idea is to create a complete, open platform for industrial scale 3D manufacturing.