ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING: Stratasys Unveils Continuous Build 3D Demonstrator

This modular 3D printing system is targeted to low-volume continuous production and mass customization.

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At the May RAPID & TCT Show in Pittsburgh, a 3D printing system solution unveiled by Stratasys, represents a significant step in low-volume, continuous production using additive technology. Target applications include environments that can benefit from zero tooling production and from a zero inventory supply chain and education rapid prototyping labs.

The Continuous Build 3D Demonstrator, for which commercial availability has yet to be announced, has been undergoing significant Beta testing at manufacturers, designers, and university labs. Included is In’Tech Industries, Ramsey, Minn., a premier supplier of rapid prototyping/additive manufacturing, engineering services, tooling services, and injection molding, which wanted to expand its 3D printing offerings to create a bridge-to-production solution for their OEM customers. The automated workflow of the Continuous Build 3D Demonstrator enabled In’ Tech to offer same-day or next-day delivery of quantities of identical or mixed parts that would eventually be injection molded, helping the company dramatically boost service without additional staff.

Based on FDM technology, the new platform is comprised of a modular unit with multiple 3D print cells working simultaneously and driven by a central, cloud-based architecture. In setting new standards in additive manufacturing throughput, the Continuous Build 3D Demonstration can produce parts in a continuous stream with only minor operator intervention, automatically ejecting completed pars and commencing to new ones. Each 3D print cell can produce a different job to help enable mass customization projects. Additional cells can be added at to the scalable platform to increase production capacity. Automatic que management, load balancing and architecture redundancy reportedly further lead to accelerated thoughput as jobs are automatically routed to available print cells. If a single cell fails, the job will be automatically rerouted to the next available cell.