Manufacturers are increasingly looking to scale up 3D printing for production parts. As a result, additive manufacturing solutions from companies like Stratasys are becoming a more integrated part of Industry 4.0. (Graphic: Business Wire)
Stratasys Ltd. announced a new program to integrate its 3D printers in production environments with the factory floor via the GrabCAD Software Development Kit (SDK). Each SDK package includes a complete set of application programming interfaces, documentation, and code samples that enable development partners and manufacturing customers to establish two-way connectivity between Stratasys FDM 3D printers and enterprise software applications. The program gives customers the power to integrate, manage, and support additive manufacturing for production of end-use parts.
Stratasys has previously introduced support for MTConnect, an industry-standard protocol that enables customers to communicate factory data. However, while good for collecting execution data, this standard does not support additional capabilities for sending and receiving printer commands and for remote monitoring. As companies increase their investment in Industry 4.0 initiatives, Stratasys is now meeting the need for more sophisticated two-way integration.
Initial partners for the GrabCAD SDK program include Link3D, the leader in additive workflow and manufacturing execution system software, and Identify3D, which provides software that enables security, usage control and traceability of design and manufacturing data across the digital supply chain.
"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 digitisation 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."
Improved API connectivity could open the door to new business models, such as enabling airlines to 3D print their own spare parts with license keys from aerospace company OEMs. Similarly, global manufacturers could more easily make on-the-fly decisions about where to produce parts in different locations through automated software integrated with global networks of 3D printers. In fact, cloud-based workflow software was essential to Stratasys' COVID Coalition to produce 250,000 face shields across more than 100 coalition partners earlier this year.
"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."
The first two available SDK packages enable customers and partners to integrate with GrabCAD Print software and Stratasys manufacturing systems including the F900, Fortus 450mc, and Stratasys F123 Series of FDM 3D printers.
- The Printer Connectivity package integrates Stratasys printers with enterprise applications such as ERP, PLM, digital rights management, and MES systems to enable automation and production data collection & analytics.
- The PLM package integrates GrabCAD Print with PLM vaulting and file management to streamline the job programming workflow.
The GrabCAD SDK packages are currently in beta with select customers and software application partners and are expected to be available in January.
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