7th October 2021
This year’s TCT show was no different. Although there were many exhibitors, the same subjects were recurring across different companies and their respective solutions. Here are five key terms from TCT 3Sixty 2021.
Current issues surrounding climate and how we contribute to our environment haven’t escaped additive manufacturing. For some, this may be the most important topic in 3D printing today: how to make it more sustainable than traditional methods as well as being faster and cheaper.
Stratasys have already begun making strides in this area. This year saw the announcement of their involvement as a founding member of the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA). Stratasys also appointed a VP of Sustainability and set four UN Sustainable Development Goals.
To help manufacturers with their sustainable creations, Stratasys also have multiple sustainable materials to utilise. Polylactic Acid (PLA) can be used to quickly make colourful prototypes on certain FDM printers. High Yield PA11 can be utilised on the powder-based H350 to make tough, durable parts that are made from 100% renewable, sustainable sources.
3D printing has already revolutionised manufacturing. With materials that can be renewed and made sustainably, it’s sure to advance even farther.
Both of these featured heavily in materials at TCT. This is unsurprising when it comes to 3D printing; agile manufacturing and rapid production are key selling points of the industry. They’re often a big part of what prompts more and more businesses to adopt additive manufacturing in the first place.
Whilst ‘rapid’ is a popular term due to the speed with which a 3D printer can deliver, ‘agile’ isn’t necessarily used in the same capacity.
Agile manufacturing in regards to 3D printing means responding to challenges as quickly as they occur. Not only that, but keeping costs as lean and efficient as possible. In other words, 3D printing is the perfect solution for manufacturers who are looking to work in a more agile manner.
Despite the power of its capabilities, 3D printing comes with very few demands – particularly with Stratasys machines.
For importing and setting up the files necessary to print objects, GrabCAD Print software from Stratasys makes the process effortless. Not only does the program automatically scan and repair files before committing to print, it also allows for remote scheduling and monitoring of jobs and alerts in real time.
Printers are now incredibly easy to set up and operate. Many Stratasys printers need only a mains outlet for power and can be operated with an intuitive touchscreen interface. This plug and play simplicity is essential to keeping 3D printing an attractive form of manufacture for many businesses. Further evolutions to make it even more accessible are sure to come in the near future.
3D printing materials are tailored for specific demands from a wide range of industries. Thermoplastics such as Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber are tough, durable, and lightweight. This makes them ideal replacements for traditional metal tooling. Replacements that can be produced in house for a fraction of the cost and time.
With PolyJet printing, rubberlike materials such as Elastico are welcome additions to prototypes or products that require tear resistance and flexibility. This makes it a great material in areas from hoses and machine ducts to hobby and sporting goods.
Far from cheap alternatives to traditional materials, 3D printing materials from Stratasys are equal to those found in many real-world, on-the-market goods today. This is one way to interpret ‘high-performance’ in regards to additive manufacturing.
The other is with regards to the machines themselves. 3D printed parts are made swiftly and often with complex geometries. For printers handling multiple simultaneous materials, several parts can be made at once with different properties and finishes.
Large-scale machines like the F770 feature fully-heated build chambers, allowing big parts – or large trays of smaller parts – to be constructed with repeatable and uniform accuracy.
Like many other industries, additive manufacturing is looking forwards. What does the future bring and where is 3D printing’s place in it?
These questions are partly what underpins shows like TCT 3Sixty, and as such it’s something we saw on the minds of many exhibitors.
For Stratasys, the future is bright. Advances in sustainability and printing options are continuous, and the employability of 3D printing for various industries and goals is always improving. Powder-based polymer printing in particular is making great strides in versatility and application with Stratasys SAF technology.
To learn more about the future of your businesses manufacturing, contact SYS Systems today. Discuss your business needs and we’ll suggest the solution that’s perfect for you.