Kodak and Evolve Additive Solutions are both relatively new entrants to the 3D printing industry. Evolve Additive Solutions emerged this year, a spinoff from Stratasys. Now the two companies have announced that they will be working together in a new partnership. Kodak will supply Evolve with imaging systems, parts and consumables based on the KODAK NEXPRESS digital electrophotographic system, and the two companies have signed Joint Development Agreements for equipment and materials with the goal of further developing Evolve’s Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process (STEP) technology.
STEP, Evolve’s proprietary technology, is scheduled for commercial release in 2020. They’ve claimed that it is 50 times faster than the current fastest 3D printing technology, High Speed Sintering, and offers full isotropic properties in all directions, making it a comparable part performance to injection molded parts. STEP is hoped to be a huge step toward making 3D printing a true production technology that can be used on factory floors alongside injection molding and other technologies.
Kodak’s electrophotographic technology has been around for more than 40 years, and the KODAK NEXPRESS platform offers a modular, upgradeable package that Evolve can transform into a production technology for additive manufacturing.
Evolve will be using a toner manufacturing process developed by Kodak to make part toners for its own system, and the electrophotographic technology will be a part of the entire system, including hardware, materials, processes, workflow software, and services required to print and finish parts with speed, quality and cost-effectiveness. The two companies are expected to work together on manufacturing, service and support as well.
“We are very encouraged by the opportunity to expand our electrophotographic platform capabilities outside of 2D imaging to the 3D printing or additive manufacturing sector,” said John O’Grady, President, Print Systems Division, Kodak. “Having worked closely with the talented staff of engineers working on the STEP technology for several years, we are confident Evolve will help change the way the organizations approach production of plastic parts for manufacturing.”
The first alpha STEP system was shipped to a strategic partner a couple of months ago, utilizing resources from both Evolve and Kodak.
“Creating a strong technology partnership with Kodak is an important element in the development of STEP,” said Steve Chillscyzn, CEO of Evolve Additive Solutions. “The selection of the Kodak systems and technology for STEP allows us to deliver to the market a highly reliable solution, based on a proven engine that is recognized as one of the most productive printing systems in world. By working with Kodak, we have a technology and a collaborative relationship that will not only allow us to get to market quickly, but we will have the throughput expansion to grow as we push STEP capabilities into the future.”
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