Industrial manufacturing firm Siemens’ Digital Industries Software division has worked with 3D printer producer Evolve Additive, and service bureaus Morf3D and Sintavia, to add new features to its Xcelerator software portfolio.
Through these industry partnerships, Siemens has introduced Xcelerator support for new additive manufacturing methods, while streamlining the overall process for many of its clients. Significantly, by working closely with Evolve Additive, Siemens also aims to develop a software-hardware solution that’s rapid enough to drive the wider adoption industrial 3D printing.
For Aaron Frankel, the VP of Siemens’ Software AM Program, the firm’s recent collaborations represent just one element of its broader expansion plan. “Over the past year, through acquisitions, technology advancements and these relationships, we have continued to expand on our ecosystem for AM, which will help us enable all our customers to be successful adopting industrialized AM.”
Xcelerating the adoption of 3D printing software
Siemens may be a multinational manufacturer with a stake in many industries, but it has taken a particular interest in 3D printing recently. Although the company has invested in the hardware side of the industry before, even acquiring two Stratasys systems earlier this year, it’s primarily been focused on the software element of additive manufacturing.
Among the array of digital projects that Siemens has invested in, including data distribution, parts digitization and production line programs, its workflow software is its most preeminent. Chief among these is its flagship Xcelerator portfolio, which it founded last year by integrating its MindSphere, Cloud Solutions, Mentor, and Mendix programs into a single platform.
Since establishing its Xcelerator ecosystem Siemens has sought to expand on it, and the firm acquired Atlas3D in December last year, before opting to absorb the software’s print preparation features. Similarly, the company has embarked on a three-year project with Sintavia, which will see the latter develop an “end-to-end” 3D printing solution.
The company plans to market the resulting program as part of its Xcelerator package, alongside its existing Factory Automation and Edge computing technologies. The latter have increasingly found additive applications, and 3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D announced that it would be installing the technology on each of its QLS-powered systems from 2021.
With its latest spate of new partnerships with Evolve Additive, Morf3D and Sintavia, Siemens is now aiming to optimize its existing Xcelerator portfolio for both novel and high-volume 3D printing applications.
Siemens’ collaboration triple-header
Given that each of Siemens’ partnerships took a slightly different approach, it’s unsurprising that the companies identified distinct and varying ways of utilizing the Xcelerator software package. Sintavia, for instance, found that leveraging Siemens’ program, it was able to “connect all phases of the AM process,” yielding greater automation and efficiency across its production workflow.
Sintavia also views its partnership with Siemens as valuable to its aerospace clients, as using the software enabled it to 3D print more cost-friendly metal components. Morf3D, meanwhile, used the Xcelerator software to design, engineer and print various prototype metal-based parts for applications in a range of industries.
Leveraging the software’s design optimization and part qualification features, Morf3D was ultimately able to apply 3D printing in new product-enhancing ways, and accelerate the fabrication process. Finally, and most significantly, Evolve Additive has equipped systems featuring its proprietary STEP technology, with Siemens’ Xcelerator software system.
Evolve Additive plans to use the software to optimize its build preparation steps, such as part slicing and nesting, as well as global production planning, scheduling and execution. In future though, the firms aim to integrate the program to such an extent that they become a joint software-hardware solution, which delivers both rapid and scalable 3D printing.
According to Frankel, the advances made across the three projects could make Siemens’ software well-suited to higher-volume applications. “These key partnerships can help move us forward, to enable customers not only to prototype, but manufacture groundbreaking products at scale, in order to meet the demands of the current marketplace,” said Frankel.
Optimizing the 3D printing workflow
Although Siemens has built a substantial additive software portfolio, a number of other companies now offer similar solutions, that enable users to streamline their production workflow.
Software developer VoxelDance for instance, launched the second iteration of its 3D printing data preparation program in September 2020. The update aimed to provide users with a comprehensive data preparation workflow, via a new set of user-friendly features.
Renishaw has opted to partner with software developer TRACEam to develop an “end-to-end” quality management platform for its InfiniAM API product ecosystem. The new program allows users to record real-time technical machine data surrounding any given part’s design, materials and post-processing.
Desktop printer manufacturer Raise3D is also attempting to develop an “all-in-one” software portfolio with its ideaMaker Library program. Using the software, clients can access a range of pre-determined slicing profiles, whether they’re using a Raise3D system or a third party machine.
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Featured image shows a graphic of a client using Siemens’ Xcelerator software to optimize their manufacturing process. Image via Siemens.