Evolve Additive Solutions expands STEP 3D printing in Europe through a strategic partnership with alphacam

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Minnesota-based 3D printer manufacturer Evolve Additive Solutions has announced a strategic partnership with German 3D printing service provider alphacam GmbH. This partnership will see alphacam offer Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic (STEP)-manufactured parts as a service to customers throughout Europe.

Launched by evolve back in 2017, STEP 3D printing technology enables high-speed 3D printing of engineering-grade thermoplastics. STEP is reportedly 50 times faster than SLS 3D printing, and enables a shorter time to market with “toolless” production.  

alphacam has adopted Evolve’s Scaled Volume Production (SVP) platform to produce and deliver fully dense, high-fidelity thermoplastic parts. The SVP 3D printer is powered by STEP technology, and also offers part serialization and hands-free post processing. Boasting over 25 years additive manufacturing experience, alphacam claims that these SVP-3D printed parts will possess near injection molding surface finish and properties. 

“We have experienced increasing demand for STEP parts in Europe, especially in automotive, consumer electronics, medical device and retail markets, as well as with fluid and airflow applications,” explained ​​Jeff Hanson, Evolve’s Senior Vice President of Go-to-Market. “Given their rich history and leadership in additive manufacturing, alphacam is the ideal partner to bring STEP technology to European industrial sectors.”

“At alphacam we pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of advanced manufacturing technologies and services,” added Michael Junghanss, alphacam’s Managing Partner. “I believe STEP technology is uniquely positioned to deliver on additive manufacturing’s quest toward production quality and scale, and we are excited to now be able to deliver this value by way of STEP parts to our customers.”

alphacam announced its new STEP offering during its second annual alphacAM EXPO and customer open house on September 27, 2023. STEP parts production is now available to customers, and can be accessed directly through alphacam. 

The Evolve STEP 3D printing system. Photo via Evolve.
The Evolve STEP 3D printing system. Photo via Evolve Additive.

The growth of STEP technology  

Evolve is a former subsidiary of 3D printer OEM Stratasys, having spun out from the company in 2017. evolve has since worked to expand and scale its STEP 3D printing technology. The company received backing from investors including LEGO and Stanley Black & Decker to develop the technology.

The electrophotography-based additive manufacturing (EPSD) process uses engineering-grade thermoplastics, and utilizes electrophotographic imaging and deposition. Here, feedstock is deposited layer by layer onto the build via a moving belt until the desired shape is formed. 

This technology is optimized for fast production, with STEP advertised as 3D printing at a rate of at least 40 layers per minute. Additionally, it is claimed that evolve’s patented technology can produce commercial-grade production parts and one-of-a-kind products that cannot be manufactured using traditional methods.       

This new partnership with alphacam is the second of its kind as part of evolve’s ongoing efforts to establish STEP production centers around the world. 

Back in 2021, the company announced a collaboration with on-demand manufacturing service provider Fathom Digital Manufacturing. This commercialization partnership saw Fathom become the first provider of STEP technology in North America. 

The company is leveraging evolve’s technology alongside its in-house portfolio of over 530 advanced manufacturing systems. These systems include plastic and metal additive manufacturing, CNC machining, injection molding and tooling, precision sheet metal fabrication, and design engineering. Fathom’s STEP offering seeks to address global supply chain challenges faced by clients in North America.

More recently, it was announced in March that Evolve had launched a Production Assessment Program for high-volume additive manufacturing. This program allows clients to collaborate with a team of Evolve engineering experts to analyze and validate the business case for their 3D printing applications on Evolve’s STEP-powered SVP platform. Clients then receive their high-fidelity parts and a summary report containing production validation data. 

STEP 3D printing factory floor. Photo via Evolve Additive Solutions.
STEP 3D printing factory floor. Photo via Evolve Additive Solutions.

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Featured image shows the Evolve STEP 3D printing system. Photo via Evolve Additive Solutions.