Stratasys was always a closed shop when it came to materials. This limited material library limited applications, use cases, and use. However, a few years ago the company opened itself up through an Ecosystem approach, whereby approved vendors could add themselves to Stratasys´ line up of materials. Solvay was the first in 2019. Kimya was recently added. Now, Bayer spinout Covestro is in the mix.
The company, which bought DSM’s additive business, has qualified Addigy PA6/66-GF20 FR LS filament for use with Stratasys machines to begin with. The material complies with EN 45545-2, NFPA 130 (ASTM E162, ASTM E662), SMP 800-C and FAR 25.853 for low smoke, flame and toxicity.
¨As 3D printing moves to the factory floor, manufacturing customers need access to functional materials that bring the right properties to their applications and meet specifications. Open ecosystems bring material and printer companies together to optimize the printing process and bring manufacturers ease of mind as they accelerate the use of additive manufacturing in their production. They also provide dual materials sourcing for mitigating risk,” the company noted.
That last point is a salient one. Few companies would take a chance on a manufacturing line or product that is completely dependent on one vendor. Many firms have rules in place to make sure that there is supply chain redundancy of some kind. As a matter of pricing and lock-in, many businesses would be fearful of ceding so much control to a single supplier.
“Manufacturers have already been benefitting from our collaboration with Stratasys on the Neo and Origin P3™ platforms. By adding Covestro filaments to the Stratasys FDM material ecosystem, they gain access to material innovation to address many more applications,” said Hugo da Silva, Vice President Additive Manufacturing at Covestro.
The supplied pictures were of an “armrest for rail vehicle seats.” The company mentioned the rail industry by name, as well. The rail focus was something that Clariant’s 3D printing arm maintained before it was acquired by DSM. It’s a really interesting niche. Not a lot of people have paid it a lot of attention, but refurbishment in rail is a huge industry in and of itself and 3D printing could play a role making a lot of out-of-production parts, as well as custom and low-volume components. However, Stratasys machines are now increasingly used by Siemens to create replacement parts for trains and trams.
By having a good application fit, many more materials will really make the difference for 3D printing. With more feedstocks fit-for-purpose and meeting all user requirements, more customers can be empowered to really apply the right materials for the job properly. With the right certificates in hand combined with familiar materials, a business’s internal 3D printing champions can much more easily find the right ammunition to convince others of the potential success of an additive project.
This is no small matter, often companies fear the exotic and new. There are a lot of areas where trying new things is just about the only thing that could get you fired. To really help the ones championing our technology, therefore, is to generate our own new leads, applications, and success in the future.
And this rail-ready material is a case in point that validates Stratasys’ new open approach. In the old lineup, it would have been unlikely that the company would have taken the time to validate a PA 6 material for its portfolio. That would have already seemed very exotic for Stratasys. However, now it has a material that could be used for rail and other similar applications to boot. I really think that Stratasys is on to something with its material alliance approach and think that it will help the company penetrate many more markets in the future.
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