Experience STEP Technology – A New Additive Entrant

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Founded in 2017, Evolve Additive Solutions (Evolve) is a spinout of Stratasys and was awarded an initial $19 million of seed capital from Stanley Black & Decker and The LEGO Group. Today Evolve is a global leader in the manufacturing of capital equipment and ABS thermoplastic production parts.

STEP Technology

The company holds over 100+ patents on its invention of STEP technology (Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process) a new polymer category defined by AM Power, which does not fit into the ASTM categorization model. STEP uses proven electrophotography imaging and deposition technology from the industrial 2D printing industry to create production parts with injection molded quality.  The process uses ABS toner  micronized into a super fine particle size of 22 microns which creates a fully dense part with superior quality.  In comparison, SLS/HSS have particle sizes of 70-120 microns. Think of this like comparing the size of a basketball to that of a tennis ball.

The printing process uses heat, pressure and cooling to fuse the part material together layer by layer. STEP’s ability  to create complex parts, thin wall structures, serialization, part consolidation, surface finish texturing, and repeatable accuracy,  sets itself apart from other additive technologies and challenges the injection molding market. Clients continue to comment on the part appearance and quality as truly impressive and remarkable.

Applications

The use of ABS material has given Evolve the ability to print parts for a wide range of applications and industries.  Recently Evolve produced a sprinkler head for a client in the irrigation market.  For this vertical market ABS is the perfect choice. The part has excellent impact strength, it’s fully dense preventing water absorption and it has the ability to withstand freeze-to-thaw cycles. The part was produced with complex hole patterns providing spray control and water conservation.

Evolve has been engaged with several automotive companies over the past few years. Their most desired application has been automobile badging. Since the STEP process creates a high-fidelity surface finish it is ideal for chrome plating creating a high-end custom look for vehicles. The parts are durable enough to withstand impact and weather conditions.

Jeff Hanson, VP of Sales and Marketing stated that “One of the reasons why part quality is best in class is because of Evolve’s Smart Part technology. As parts are printed the machine looks for variations by a topographic scan and through a closed loop process  is able to adjust by depositing more or less material onto the next incoming layer. This also initiates complete traceability. No other AM technology has this capability”.

New Management Team of Industry Experts

In the summer of 2022, Evolve announced a restructuring and hired several industry pioneers including:

  • CEO, Joe Allison, former founder and CEO of Solid Concepts and former CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
  • Jeff Blank, COO, former COO at NanoVox/Vadient Optics and former EVP of Engineering and Product Development at 3D Systems
  • Jeff Hanson, VP of Sales & Marketing, former CEO and founder of Digital 3D Manufacturing and former Co-Founder of RedEye / Stratasys Direct Manufacturing

Their strong leadership and industry expertise moved the company forward and repositioned itself as both a capital equipment company and a new entrant into the AM parts business. In March of 2023 Evolve announced the expansion of their product portfolio by introducing the “Production Assessment Program” (PAP).

Production Assessment Program

This program allows clients to work with a team of engineering experts to analyze and validate the business case of their additive applications on Evolve’s SVP (Scaled Volume Production) platform, powered by STEP technology. Clients will then receive their high-fidelity parts as well as a summary report with production validation data.

To accommodate this new program, the headquarters location in Minnetonka, MN and the Material Technology Center in Rochester, NY recently expanded. The Minnetonka facility has added a 11,500 square footage “Production Acceleration Center” which includes an SVP system experience center, a metrology test lab, a post-processing lab, training facilities and a production parts showroom. The Rochester, NY location added 6,000 square footage and continues to test and develop new materials one of which is a new gray ABS.

Rapid + TCT 2023

In preparation for Rapid 2023, Todd Grimm,  President of T.A. Grimm & Assoc, an additive manufacturing consultant, announced the top “must-see” company booths to stop and visit. Evolve made his list. Todd was impressed with the unique process of STEP, the new executive management team, and the fact that Evolve owns their production category of STEP.

While at Rapid Evolve will pre-announce a new gray ABS material and have several  parts on display and  samples available.

To experience the benefits of agile manufacturing or apply to the “Production Assessment Program” visit Evolve’s website at www.evolveadditive.com/production-assessment-program/

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