Earlier this year, Polymaker, producer of materials used in extrusion-based 3D printing, announced it was partnering with AMESOS, a 3D printer manufacturer spun-off from motor and motion control company, Akribis Systems. The intention behind forming the partnership was to usher in the era of “FFF 2.0”. This, of course, refers to fused filament fabrication, the most popular process in desktop 3D printing. AMESOS co-founder Tommy Huang explained, “We started by trying to solve the problem alone, but very soon we realized that we are only part of the solution and desperately needed many other areas of expertise.”
In the same press release, it was briefly mentioned that Polymaker and AMESOS were also planning to aid the partnership by using software developed by Helio Additive, a startup based in Changshu, about two hours outside of Shanghai, that Polymaker co-founded. Now, based on the information in a new, additional statement, it appears that Helio will in fact be the key to making the entire venture work.
Using a physics-based approach to slicing software, Helio’s platform not only simplifies 3D models into individual voxels, it also deploys simulations of those voxels under real-world conditions. Each voxel is tested in advance, taking into consideration the stress relaxation and thermal history of each voxel. The goal of this is to prevent the lengthy physical testing periods and subsequent manual readjustments to the design characteristics of current industry standard FFF-based printing processes.
Helio believes that its software aids in enhancing the repeatability, reliability, and speed of FFF printing, such that it can ultimately help users achieve an increase in price performance of up to tenfold. The company suggests that FFF printers are currently operating at only one-fifth of their potential maximum speed. Helios notes, as well, that engineers are currently still working based largely from the strategy of trial and error, often failing up to five times before getting end-use parts right.
The Helio team believes its software — working in conjunction with AMESOS printers and Polymaker filament — is the solution to these problems. As Helio’s CEO, David Hartmann, puts it, “In the last 5 years hardware in 3D printing has outpaced the growth software capabilities leaving a bottleneck for companies ready to adopt additive in their workflow. At Helio, our aim is to diminish the void between software and hardware and ultimately increase the output and reliability of 3D printed parts in production.”
Software systems using a physics-based approach have existed for some time, but such platforms are usually seen in the context of industrial 3D printing. The interesting thing about Helio’s product is that it’s tailored towards printers that dominate the desktop scene, allowing individual makers to bring to their own projects the same level of control and precision which is currently mainly utilized in the business world. Eventually, we can even imagine entire print farms relying on the software to manufacture batches of quality end parts.
Images courtesy of Helio Additive
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