Düsseldorf, Germany — Long considered primarily a prototyping technology, additive manufacturing is steadily advancing as a way to add flexibility throughout the manufacturing process.
At K 2016, Stratasys Ltd. (Hall 4/C55) is looking to shift the focus for 3-D printing beyond prototyping to the manufacturing of end-use parts and tooling.
Stratasys develops additive manufacturing systems and materials for use in automotive, aerospace, health care, education and other industries. Many of its latest technologies blend additive and traditional processes to create new capabilities and cut costs.
“You want to make things more efficient, more cost-effective, and sometimes identifying these opportunities in each business means just exposure to what can be done,” said Nadav Sella, founder of the company's injection molding business unit. “You're no longer bound to a CNC milling station to make a part.”
Plastic 3-D printed tooling is faster to produce, cheaper and lighter than conventional machined tooling. And it's particularly suited for special shapes required for testing or short manufacturing runs, for which conventional tooling is not time- or cost-effective, Sella said.