AMUG 2021: DyeMansion and Stratasys to Deliver Total Solution for 3D Printing and Finishing SAF Parts

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As a new powder bed fusion process, Stratasys’s new selective absorption fusion (SAF) technology promises to deliver high-volume parts at attractive prices. Upon announcing its first SAF system alongside two other machines, the company hopes that SAF will be the polymer technology that ushers in a new era of millions of end-use polymer parts being used by many industries.

Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) also knows that 3D printing is just one part of the entire production process. Parts have to be depowdered and often receive surface treatment of some kind. They can then be dyed, as well. Only then will the part be able to leave the shop. For costs to be lowered, efficient post finishing is essential. At the same time, if we want to offer millions of parts quality must be assured. We will need repeatable results and consistency in surface finish and part performance.

So, Stratasys has taken the step of partnering with DyeMansion to develop a reference architecture that encompasses the entire process from shape to finished product. Through optimizing dye’s for SAF parts and dialing in the right parameters in every process step, the combined DyeMansion-Stratasys workflow is meant to finish parts consistently. This is a significant step for both firms in tackling the problem of inconsistencies in runs and in individual parts. What’s more, there will be a joint go to market where Stratasys’s sales and channels will sell the DyeMansion-Stratasys solution with the printer and finishing equipment included.

Stratasys’s new SAF technology features the use of a counter-rotating roller, which coats powder layers onto the print bed and applies absorber fluid, which images the part layers. These imaged layers are then fused together when an infrared (IR) lamp is passed over the whole print bed. These processing steps are performed in the same direction across the bed in order to ensure uniform consistency and thermal experience for all parts, no matter where they are located in the build. Image courtesy of Dyemansion.

We interviewed Felix Ewald, CEO & Co-Founder of DyeMansion, and Pat Carey, Senior Vice President Americas Products & Solutions of Stratasys, to talk more about this deal. Felix, who dresses like he should be running an urban record label, and looks a lot like the rapper Logic, is noticeably happy with the deal.

He says, “This is a huge thing for us, with Stratasys going into powder bed and choosing DyeMansion technology for their customers, as well as doing a joint go-to-market. Especially when a new technology comes to market it is important to get part quality right. We’re extremely impressed with the parts that are coming out, especially about their homogenous coloring results. The coloring and dyeing are working in a reproducible way with good surface quality. We are now able to make good-looking end-use parts with consumer industry colors. We’re also happy that customers can go to Stratasys Direct in the States and see the whole factory infrastructure from SAF machines to Polyshot and vapor smoothing.”

Pat Carey, who dresses a bit more like a senator, told us, “Our customers were really looking for end-to-end solutions, and, of the vendors in the powder bed post processing space, only DyeMansion offers a complete solution. We also have a focus on sustainability, as do many of our customers, so when we looked at a number of options, DyeMansion was also the most sustainable choice. That, combined with our Rilsan, plant-derived polymer, makes for a sustainable manufacturing solution. And we really do need a solution. Our sales people need to be able to guarantee quality, price, finish and dyeing. We’re comparing ourselves directly with injection molding, where you know all of these things, so we have to know them, too. We can also deliver on quality over the whole process with a next generation technology that lowers prices while offering a better way to define the outside of the part, which gives us high homogeneity and part quality. Now, we have a process where powder goes in and parts go out. Through using it at Stratasys Direct, we’ve also been able to prove that it works.”

Pat is seeing interest for the solution in service bureaus, manufacturing firms, automotive companies, medical device manufacturing and in the consumer space, as well. Most of that interest is focussed on end-use parts at high volumes. This is a great step forward for the industry. I’m a bit of a solution sceptic, as many solutions seem to be value-based pricing strategies in disguise. But this is exactly what manufacturing companies need: one price and everything works from day one. No months of dialing everything in and cobbling together your own workflow. I wish that all manufacturers would offer an integrated batch to batch solution like this.

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