Japanese Chemical Leader Asahi Kasei Embraces 3D Printing: Invests in CASTOR for Software

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Japanese chemical company Asahi Kasei has made an investment in the Israeli startup CASTOR Technologies, which specializes in 3D printing software. In addition to using CASTOR’s 3D printing software and consulting services, Asahi Kasei will strive to integrate its computer aided engineering (CAE) technical service for plastic products with CASTOR’s software.

Commenting on the deal, Yukihiro Ban, Senior General Manager of Business Strategy and Marketing, Mobility and Industrial Strategic Business Unit at Asahi Kasei, stated, “Through this investment, we will further investigate the synergies between CASTOR’s software and Asahi Kasei’s CAE expertise. We aim to provide our customers with more advanced and automated real-time simulations, as well as expand the range of technical services that both companies can offer.”

Process optimization with CASTOR 3D printing software. Image courtesy of CASTOR Technologies.

A diversified company, Asahi Kasei has been involved in various industries, including fibers, chemicals, homes, construction materials, and healthcare. The company has made several investments across different sectors. For example, it poured money into Danish firm Veloxis Pharmaceuticals to develop pharma products for transplantation medicine and Fuji Electric to manufacture power electronics. Asahi Kasei has also ventured into electronic materials, semiconductors, display technologies, electric vehicle (EV) batteries for cars, and renewable energy technologies, to name a few.

Recognizing the growing significance of 3D printing, Asahi Kasei has invested in the sector and provided materials and components for additive manufacturing through its subsidiaries and strategic partnerships. For instance, its specialty polymers and resins are suitable for 3D printing applications, like creating functional prototypes, medical devices, and industrial components.

Furthermore, the multinational has actively pursued research and development to discover novel materials and technologies that enhance the potential of 3D printing. Leveraging its expertise in materials science, the company is committed to advancing additive manufacturing. Over the years, Asahi Kasei has provided comprehensive, high-precision support to customers in product design and development through its CAE technical service focused on engineering plastics, which includes topology optimization design technology that proposes novel shapes as well as impact analysis technology that contributes to the efficiency of product testing.

Now, the company anticipates that integrating CASTOR’s software with Asahi Kasei’s plastic CAE technical service will enable the automation of more advanced simulations. CASTOR’s software, equipped with a proprietary algorithm, is capable of streamlining the 3D printing workflow by automatically selecting suitable parts for 3D printing from CAD drawings within a bill of materials (BOM) and suggesting shape modifications. This software aids engineers in accelerating the production of optimized 3D printed parts, identifying geometrical errors in 3D models, generating necessary support structures, and assisting in material selection.

How Asahi Kasei and CASTOR plan to combine synergies for 3D printing parts. Image courtesy of CASTOR Technologies.

Asahi Kasei foresees that CASTOR’s service, which simplifies part formability assessment and simulates manufacturing costs, will facilitate faster responses to customer inquiries. Moreover, it predicts that the software integration will further optimize customers’ manufacturing processes by estimating lead times, costs, and CO2 emissions associated with the analyzed parts.

While the exact investment amount in CASTOR has not been disclosed, the company has raised over $6 million since its establishment in 2017.

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