Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has revealed its plans to build the industry’s most flexible and open additive manufacturing (AM) ecosystem to help overcome complexities in 3D printing processes and support customers in effectively building their product development and manufacturing workflows.
With several new additions to the ecosystem announced this week alone – Sciaky, Meltio, CADS Additive, AMcubator and Additive Centre – and many more under way, Hexagon’s suite of AM partners and products is becoming one of the most comprehensive on the market. Plans to continue building an open ecosystem from concept to customer with the shared purpose of high quality were revealed at 3D printing industry event Formnext 2021, where the challenges of industrialising AM have been at the forefront of discussions.
Paolo Guglielmini, president of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “Far from Industry 4.0 creating a ‘connected’ end-to-end supply chain, today many 3D printers and protocols are creating ‘walled kingdoms’ of hardware that are incompatible with certain CAE tools, and vendors are introducing machines with proprietary connectivity, standards and protocols designed not to work with machinery from rivals.
“Just as large manufacturers drove the provision of open factory automation, it’s important we vendors now break down barriers to new manufacturing technologies that offer more flexibility and efficiency. Instead, open data standards should be seen as a growth enabler.”
Hexagon’s AM ecosystem offers customers a broad spectrum of solutions as a result of working closely with material suppliers (e.g., Solvay, Covestro), printer and machine-tool companies (e.g., Stratasys, Markforged, Renishaw, Additive Industries, Sciaky, Gefertec, Meltio), software and platform providers (e.g., Authentise, CADS Additive, Elise), and service bureaus. Through open collaboration, it is helping manufacturers to build confidence in performance, quality, and repeatability, while allowing customers to integrate new AM technologies with their existing solutions, tools and workflows. Solutions that leverage Hexagon and ecosystem partners are used by every part of the supply chain, from part producers to global OEMs, with the common aim of producing high quality parts to global industrial standards.
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has a consultative approach, developing long-term relationships with the biggest players in global manufacturing, as well as disruptive new players. With a community of more than 500,000 users, its product development and manufacturing technologies are used throughout the supply chain. Hexagon also invests 10% of net sales in R&D and holds thousands of active patents. In additive manufacturing, the company collaborates with leading research institutes and projects, including the EU MANUELA project, Lift, RMIT University, Purdue University, Materials Innovation Guild (MIG) at the University of Louisville, and more. It is also an active contributor to the development of emerging standards, including ASTM International groups, the 3MF Consortium in November 2021 to contribute to the development of effective interoperability between additive manufacturing software tools.
Mathieu Pérennou, director of strategy and global business development for additive manufacturing at Hexagon, said: “Through continued openness, our ecosystem benefits both sides of the exchange. Our partners can benefit from Hexagon’s technologies and expertise while getting the opportunity to collaborate and solve problems for our extensive global manufacturing customer base, while our customers benefit from that deeper collaboration and ability to build workflows based on truly best-of-breed solutions that are fully tailored to their individual goals.
“We want to continue to expand that ecosystem to industrialise AM and realise its benefits for high performance components, meeting the same quality expectations that our customers have for traditional methods, and we need to make it possible at higher volumes than AM with consistent results at every global plant.”
Jeff Hemenway, Vice President, Business Segments for Stratasys, commented: “We fully agree that an ecosystem-based approach is required to enable manufacturers to understand the full potential of AM, as demonstrated through our recently launched GrabCad AM platform and our new open approach to material development. Our partnership with Hexagon allows customers to accelerate the design and simulated testing of parts and material performance for printing. And, as the committed global leader in advancing polymer-based Additive Manufacturing - together with Hexagon, and across industries, we are propelling our customers’ ability to realize the value of AM in production.”
Alex Redwood, head of design AM, Additive Industries, commented: “We are often printing complex parts of varying size and shapes and we need to get them right first time. Our unconstrained base plate technology is particularly important to simulate accurately when it comes to the behaviour of large components during build. We have found that Hexagon’s Simufact Additive build simulation captures this behaviour incredibly well with short simulation times. We look forward to pushing the limits of industrial AM design and exploring other synergies through the projects we are currently undertaking.”
Daniel Stadlmayr, technical director, CADS Additive, commented: “Our collaboration with Hexagon is a win for all the industry, helping our customers to achieve the best possible results with accurate build simulation, optimal use of materials and a shared passion for innovation to help our customers solve their most challenging design challenges for metal AM.”