Stratasys-3If there’s one company that most people would trust to give 3D printing advice, it’s likely Stratasys. The company has been around since the early days of 3D printing, and has been responsible for some of the industry’s biggest breakthroughs and milestones. They’ve grown into a huge multinational corporation with influence in nearly every major industry, and they’re responsible for one of the most popular methods of 3D printing: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). Today Stratasys announced that they will be demonstrating some of their latest, most cutting-edge technology at the upcoming International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2016.

As part of their “SHAPING WHAT’S NEXT” vision, Stratasys will be debuting two “3D Demonstrators,” essentially previews of what’s coming next from the company – and for the 3D printing industry. And what’s coming next is pretty exciting. The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator quite literally turns 3D printing on its side with a technology that prints on a vertical plane, allowing for virtually unlimited part size. The Infinite Build technology was developed in response to needs from the aerospace and automotive industries in particular, and Boeing and Ford are working closely with Stratasys on the development of the system.

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The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator

“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,” said Darryl Davis, President of Boeing Phantom Works. “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.”

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An aircraft panel 3D printed with the Infinite Build 3D Demonstrator.

Boeing is currently experimenting with an Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator to produce lightweight, low-volume parts. Ford is also exploring the demonstrator for automotive manufacturing purposes, and will be working with Stratasys to develop applications for automotive-grade 3D printed materials that thus far have been impossible due to size constraints.

“3D printing holds the promise of changing automotive design and manufacturing because it opens up new ways to innovate and create efficiencies in production,” said Mike Whitens, director, Vehicle Enterprise Sciences, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering. “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,”

The other new system Stratasys is unveiling is the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator. Working with Siemens, Stratasys developed the technology by combining their own additive manufacturing processes with Siemens’ industrial motion control hardware and design-to-3D printing software. Composite materials, which are ideal for producing strong, lightweight structures, are an integral part of manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace industries, as well as the oil and gas and medical sectors. Unfortunately, the production of composites is highly labor intensive and limited in terms of geometry.

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The Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator

The Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator uses an 8-axis motion system for precise, directional material placement, enabling the production of strong parts without the need for supports, which slow down production. The system demonstrates a new way to build lightweight parts, faster than ever and with a wider variety of materials.

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Part produced with the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator

“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,” said Arun Jain, VP, Motion Control, Digital Factory US, Siemens. “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.”

IMTS 2016 will be taking place in Chicago September 12-17. In addition to their two new major developments, Stratasys will also be showing off several examples of their current technology as it’s being used by customers in tooling and manufacturing applications, such as 3D printed jigs and fixtures, composite tooling, mold tooling, and production parts.

“Stratasys is building on our success in manufacturing with applications such as manufacturing aids, injection molds and composite tooling, and leveraging our relationships with innovative industry leaders to further extend the applicability of additive manufacturing in demanding production environments,” said Ilan Levin, CEO of Stratasys. ”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. Stratasys invites all visitors to IMTS to see these new technologies, as well as our field-proven industrial additive manufacturing solutions, in action.”

Will you be attending IMTS this year? Discuss over in the Stratasys to Debut 3D Demonstrators forum at 3DPB.com.

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