Materialise Stays Focused on Collaboration, Building the Backbone for 3D Printing; Announces New Partnership

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Materialise headquarters in Leuven, Belgium

It’s been a busy few months for Belgium-based Materialise — and for those of us working to follow their progress. The company hosted the biennial Materialise World Summit in Brussels last month, not far from its Leuven HQ, bringing together a true meeting of the minds for in-depth discussions on the additive manufacturing industry as the technology applies to both industrial and medical applications. Hot on the heels of this major event, Materialise came over to Pittsburgh for a notable showing at North America’s largest 3D printing-focused tradeshow as RAPID + TCT provided the next venue for the company to showcase its wares and engage with users and partners, as collaboration remains a key to business strategy. Rife with announcements ahead of and during the conference, Materialise is showing no signs of slowing down as the company nears three decades in the 3D printing industry.

At RAPID, I sat down with Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager – North America, Materialise, to catch up on his take on the recent spate of activity in what is becoming an annual tradition.

Bryan Crutchfield at Materialise’s booth at RAPID + TCT

“In the last week or so, we saw our metal release which offers a minimum of contact support points for supports to help people with metal printing to improve the process,” Crutchfield told me of the latest updates in Magics. “With Inspector, the program can proactively think about laser powder bed systems, and look even before starting for any problems. You can tweak tools, monitor build platform imagery, and Inspector will flag any points of concern automatically. It is looking at the layers flagging potential points of interest. This is in an effort to help build out workflows. We look to the post-processing side, with more parts built and less people building; this is where the industry is going, and is our first focus.”

Regarding simulations, Crutchfield noted that this is not available yet, but will allow for predictions based on set parameters and specific geometries. He also noted that we’ll see a Mimics release soon in the Care Suite, through which the focus will be on optimizing workflows and on automating processes with the ultimate goal being to save time and to help more patients.

We turned next to the topic of collaborations, as from the top down Materialise demonstrates extensive interest in and focus on partnerships. Announced during the conference, Materialise’s collaboration with 3D Systems will see Materialise Build Processor software put to use to streamline workflows for 3D Systems’ ProJet CJP full-color 3D printers. Crutchfield noted that this partnership represents “another building block in the front and the back end.” We looked next to the work the company is doing with Siemens, in which Materialise additive manufacturing technology is integrated into Siemens’ NX software. This allows for a “seamless workflow,” Crutchfield told me, that allows one to “more deeply interface with the machine as we move toward real production.” Finally, we touched on the collaboration with HP, as Materialise is a foundational partner; this work allows Materialise to “deliver the power of multi jet fusion to our customers,” he explained. The company has been putting its Jet Fusion 3D printer to use, having been one of the first companies to receive one.

“We really are building out the backbone for 3D printing,” Crutchfield told me, keeping on-message. “We are building a seamless workflow for engineers, technicians, medical professionals — for all users.”

He continued with a look forward, “We are looking beyond mass customization, to mass production. The value proposition is right.”

The overall message that Materialise has been looking to convey — and has indeed been quite consistent in — is optimizing workflow. This message has come across every time I’ve spoken with the Materialise team lately as additive manufacturing technology and the industry surrounding it grows up.

Further keeping to the message of collaboration, Materialise and Taiwan-based Ackuretta Technologies today announced that Materialise’s Magics Print DLP 3D printing software is now a certified solution for Ackuray 3D printers. The Ackuray 3D printer series, based on DLP technology, was released early this year.

“We are happy to collaborate with a DLP specialist like Ackuretta and together offer users of DLP machines easy-to-use software for build preparation and job file creation. Our joint forces will invite more users to trust DLP technologies and create great applications,” Stefaan Motte, Vice President, Materialise, said of the announcement.

Ackuray 3D printers [Image: Ackuretta]

Ackuretta is targeting applications in medical, jewelry, and manufacturing industries with its DLP technologies. Working with Materialise will offer the company, which highlights the importance of its users and their experience, the ability to offer an intuitive and customizable user interface.

“Everything we do is focused on our customers. With this in mind, partnering our innovative 3D solutions with robust Materialise software allows our customers to take advantage of a first-class solution,” said Ayush Bagla, Managing Director at Ackuretta Technologies.

Materialise has a long history in 3D printing, nearing the three-decade mark, and the company is indeed consistent with its messaging, from CEO Fried Vancraen’s remarks at MWS and RAPID recently to those working to develop the software and indeed those using technologies from Materialise. This cohesiveness of message unites the company in its mission to deliver an optimal user experience, keeping all parties involved and on-task. The way forward for Materialise is well-mapped and constantly revised to keep up with new developments and collaborations as the company operates with growing expertise and, always, the utmost in integrity and a far-reaching regard for those who benefit from their technologies. Discuss in the Materialise forum at 3DPB.com.

[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]

 

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