The first company, Evolve Additive, is working on a selective toner electrophotographic process (STEP), which uses an electrostatically charged roller that selectively collects polymeric particles in the position appropriate for the individual build layer. The roller then deposits particles onto a conveyor belt which carries them to the build platform. The roller and platform continually move back and forth until the build is complete.
STEP combines 2D imaging technology with proprietary technology developed by Evolve. It can precisely align incoming layers and sophisticated bonding techniques that create final parts that are fully dense with isotropic properties of injection molding, the company said.
“We believe the STEP technology is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap in the market not yet addressed by additive or traditional manufacturing technologies,” said Evolve Additive CEO Steve Chillscyzn in a statement. “It is the first-of-its-kind technology offering an additive method for mass production. It’s designed to deliver the benefits of additive, while handling high-volume production.”
Evolve Additive says it can operate at production speeds of up to 50 times faster than existing binder jetting processes such as HP’s multi-jet fusion or Xaar’s high-speed sintering.
The process started as a research focus area in Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Stratasys’ R&D labs, where it has been in development for a decade. It won’t be commercialized for another two years, according to IDTechEXResearch.
The second company, Vulcan Labs, includes industry experts from Harvest Technologies, which Stratasys acquired in 2014. Vulcan Labs is mum on its technology except to say that it is based on the established metal printing process–powder bed fusion–and relies on a multi-laser sintering process. Vulcan Labs’ technology will be competing with multi-laser DMLS printers already commercialized by EOS and Concept Laser.
Stratasys, which has been struggling financially for the past three years, decided to spin off the two companies so it could focus on its core business and so the companies would be freer to obtain more external financing, the IDTechEXResearch report says.