Up until recently, the two closest competitors in the 3D printing world have been Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) and 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD), as the two largest publicly traded stalwarts the industry has to offer. Is it possible that these two firms, which compete neck-and-neck on multiple fronts, could make peace, at least for a single partnership? It seems that way, for Stratasys has announced that its GrabCAD Software Partner Program will include two new partners, Riven and Oqton.
While Riven is a unique developer of quality control software based in Berkeley, Calif., Oqton is a manufacturing execution system (MES) developer recently acquired by 3D Systems. Through the GrabCAD Software Partner Program, companies like these are able to leverage the GrabCAD software development kit (SDK) to create third-party applications for GrabCAD, Stratasys’s print preparation tool and 3D modeling community.
“New GrabCAD Software partners give us the ability to grow the numbers of technologies available through the GrabCAD AM Platform and allows us to support our customers’ goals by creating a connected ecosystem that supports additive manufacturing at scale,” said Paul Giaconia, Vice President of Software Products for Stratasys. “We welcome these two new partners and look forward to continuing to grow this program and supporting our customers’ Industry 4.0 initiatives.”
Oqton’s machine-agnostic, cloud software platform uses artificial intelligence to automate repetitive tasks and the 3D printing workflow. This includes order tracking, scheduling, model latticing, build prep, and slicing. As a part of the tool, users can create live dashboards and automated reports. All of this is necessary to making additive manufacturing (AM) more streamlined while also integrating it into existing production environments.
“Our solution empowers humans and machines to work together seamlessly – which is the key difference between manufacturing success and manufacturing failure,” said Benjamin Schrauwen, CEO at Oqton. “We’ve made it very easy to combine and visualize data from different machines, from different manufacturers, and across different technologies, and by partnering with Stratasys we can help our shared customers achieve automated manufacturing success.”
Riven’s solution should also improve the integration of AM into mainstream manufacturing, as it serves to improve the quality of 3D printed models. With a 3D scanner, users can scan parts and match them against CAD models to check for issues. Its Warp-Adapted-Model (WAM) tool increases the accuracy of parts by two to 10 times, according to the company, for fused deposition modeling (FDM), powder bed fusion (PBF) and stereolithography (SLA) technologies.
James Page, founder and CTO of Riven, commented, “Together with Stratasys we recognize how critical it is that production parts are delivered quickly and to spec in order for additive to reach its full potential. Riven’s next-generation predictive, machine learning technology, enables customers to realize higher part quality and reduced time to production deliveries.”
Now, both companies will be developing tools that integrate with GrabCAD, meaning that the many companies using Stratasys’s 3D printers will be able to access these technologies more easily. Because GrabCAD supports native CAD files, the entire design to print workflow is being made more streamlined by Stratasys overall.
As 3D Systems CEO Jeff Graves told us in a recent interview, Oqton represents an opening up for the company, a trend which is occurring throughout the industry. For Stratasys, both GrabCAD and its SLA/digital light processing subsidiary Origin are open. So, we’re seeing a bit of a guard being lowered on the parts of both companies so that the industry as a whole progresses forward.
There’s a huge amount of activity in AM from such giants as BASF and Siemens. There are also newcomers, such as Desktop Metal, that could pose a threat. It’s probably not in the cards anytime soon but it would be interesting to see a 3D Systems and Stratasys merger. Maybe then they’d be able to put up a stronger fight against the other competition. Perhaps we’ll consider it more as part of our Dream Mergers and Acquisitions series.
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