Looking back at 2022, will we see this as the year of manufacturing execution software (MES) in 3D printing? Possibly. There have been a number of developments related to the technology that suggests that MES is key to the industrialization of additive manufacturing (AM). The latest is the combination of 3YOURMIND’s Agile MES platform and other lifecycle management tools with software from Markforged (NYSE: MKFG).
Markforged has always presented itself as a software-forward company. Though it pioneered composite 3D printing and bound metal extrusion, it has long promoted its cloud-based Eiger software as the leading edge in 3D printer management. This resulted in the creation of a massive network of Markforged 3D printers, meant to improve the 3D printing experience through the application of machine learning to the entire network. In turn, Eiger manages this Digital Forge and provides automated workflows and real-time analytics.
So far, however, Markforged software has been limited to Markforged equipment. 3YOURMIND adds to Markforged’s solution by allowing a multi-vendor fleet of printers to connect. That way, there’s a single interface for monitoring all of a shop’s equipment. Additionally, they will be able to leverage Markforged’s Blacksmith software, one of the few in-process part inspection tools on the market that automatically adds a printer parts quality assurance report to its digital record.
“With Eiger, Markforged is advancing interoperability with cloud and business system tooling to enable deeper penetration of additive into our customers’ manufacturing ecosystems with the traceability, reporting and security required in these digital workflows,” said Ted Plummer, Director of Product Management, Software at Markforged. “At a time of global supply chain disruption, making it easier to print, verify and use 3D printed parts in mission critical applications is more important than ever.”
One possible use of Markforged’s Eiger Fleet, for managing a collection of 3D printers, is the automatic printing of parts as they reach the end of life. This digital kanban inventory system seems to be the result of the company’s partnership with German inventory management company Würth, which offers its CPS KANBAN service brand.
“3YOURMIND is excited to partner with Markforged to expand API integrations for 3YOURMIND and Markforged users who value secure data handling due to the sensitivity of their data,” says Aleksander Cizsek, Founder and CEO of 3YOURMIND. “As a result of this partnership, manufacturers will have more intuitive, streamlined access to machine data to further empower their production capabilities and discover new avenues for workflow efficiency.”
The tools of all three companies could prove to be a powerful combination. With 3YOURMIND, it would be possible to monitor the lifecycle of parts across an entire fleet. Blacksmith would add in-process quality inspection. And Würth would automate inventory management. And these applications are just the tip of the iceberg. If you were to introduce pick and place and shuttling robots to the mix, you could very well be on the way to an automated factory. That is, if everything were implemented smoothly.
We could see the results of such a collaboration in the Project DIAMonD initiative in Michigan, where Markforged printers are being used by local manufacturers. Tom Kelly, Executive Director and CEO of Automation Alley, explained:
“Eiger has been instrumental in harnessing the power of our connected fleet of 3D printers during our recent Project DIAMOnD initiative in Michigan. Over 300 local manufacturers have banded together to create a powerful, distributed network and today they are creating tourniquet parts to assist medical efforts in Ukraine. This use cases illustrates the power of true digital transformation in the manufacturing industry, and we’re excited to see how 3YOURMIND’s integration of Eiger API continues to improve these capabilities.”
Those attending the RAPID + TCT show in Detroit will be able to learn more about the integration, while also seeing the new FX20 3D printer and new Eiger features. Markforged will be at booth #3808 and 3YOURMIND will be at booth #3622.
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