3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has launched its new GrabCAD Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable two-way connectivity between its FDM 3D printers and enterprise software applications on the factory floor.
“Additive manufacturing enables almost anything to be manufactured almost anywhere quickly, and that is the kind of agility our customers need in a world of supply chain disruption,” said Dick Anderson, Senior Vice President for Manufacturing at Stratasys.
“Stratasys is committed to enable full integration with the smart factory to give our customers the speed and agility benefits that only additive manufacturing can provide.”
Introducing GrabCAD SDK
Having previously introduced support for industry-standard protocol MTConnect, Stratasys is now building upon the standard’s execution data collection capability to provide more sophisticated processes for remote monitoring and sending and receiving printer commands.
Stratasys’ new SDK program is designed to integrate its printers into factory floor production environments to enable two-way connectivity between the machines and various enterprise software applications. To facilitate this, the SDK package includes a complete set of application programming interfaces, documentation, and code samples which will enable customers to integrate, manage and support 3D printing processes for the creation of end-use parts.
The first two SDK packages are currently in beta with selected customers and software partners, and are expected to be available in January. The packages are designed to enable customers to integrate with GrabCAD Print software and Stratasys’ manufacturing systems, including its F900, Fortus 450mc, and F123 Series of FDM 3D printers.
The first of the offerings is the Printer Connectivity Package, which facilitates automation and production data collection and analytics through integrating Stratasys printers with ERP, PLM, digital rights management, and MES system enterprise applications. The second PLM package is designed to streamline the job programming workflow by merging Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print program with PLM vaulting and file management capabilities.
“The Industrial IoT transformation is underway as leading manufacturers seek to adopt a more digital, agile way of operating,” said Greg Gorbach, Vice President of Digitization and IoT at ARC Advisory Group. “At the heart of IIoT is data and connectivity. For 3D printing to achieve its full potential on the shop floor, companies need an easy, secure, scalable way for additive manufacturing systems to integrate into Industry 4.0 initiatives in production environments.”
Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif recently identified the firm’s GrabCAD software as a source of future growth, predicting it would play a key part in future industry 4.0 integration.
Improving API connectivity
Enhancing application programming interface (API) connectivity could play a key role in paving the way towards new business models across the global manufacturing spectrum. An example given by Stratasys is the potential for airlines to 3D print their own spare parts with license keys from aerospace OEMs.
The power of cloud based workflow software was demonstrated earlier this year in the printing of more than 250,000 face shields by more than a hundred partners, as part of Stratasys’ Covid Coalition.
As more and more manufacturers look to scale up their 3D printing operations for production parts, improving workflow connectivity is an increasing focus not only for Stratasys, but also for many others operating in the 3D printing sector.
At Formnext Connect, multinational printing firm HP revealed a number of partnerships to drive digital, software, services, and automation advancements across the additive manufacturing space, including teaming up with software company Dyndrite to develop its HP Universal Build Manager to streamline and automate workflows, among other functions.
Last year, German 3D printer OEM EOS teamed up with UK-based software firm AMFG to enable streaming and connectivity for EOS machines through AMFG’s MES software. September this year saw additive manufacturing workflow software develop Authentise partner with Addiguru, a develop of real-time process monitoring systems, to advance its Authentise Manufacturing Execution System (AMES). Meanwhile, MakerOS unveiled its latest collaboration workflow platform, MakerOS 2.0.
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Featured image shows Stratasys has launched its GrabCAD software Development Kit to meet the need of manufacturers increasingly looking to scale up 3D printing for production parts. Image via Business Wire/Stratasys.