Stratasys partners with Solvay to produce new FDM materials
The move comes as part of the...
Israeli 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has announced a partnership with Belgium’s advanced materials company Solvay.
The move comes as part of the launch of their authorized materials partner program, which seeks to expand the range of polymers available to manufacturers using Stratasys’ FDM 3D printers.
Rich Garrity, Stratasys’ President, Americas, said: “Stratasys is committed to expanding our portfolio of advanced, specialized materials for high performance FDM printers – enabling manufacturers to readily use 3D printing for production applications. By combining our expertise with Solvay, customers can make use of a broad range of high performance applications – all while maintaining the level of quality and reliability expected from Stratasys high-performance FDM consumables.”
As the first member of that program, Solvay will have access to tools and expertise from Stratasys to help develop polymer materials for use in its F900 3D printer.
“With this strategic partnership, we are combining Stratasys’ leadership in fused deposition modelling 3D printing with Solvay’s leadership in developing high-performance, AM-ready materials for the most demanding applications in a large number of industries,” said Christophe Schramm, Business Manager for Additive Manufacturing in Solvay’s Specialty Polymers Global Business Unit. “This is fully in line with Solvay’s ambition to push the limits of high-performance additive manufacturing.”
Though no information has been released on the specific materials they hope to develop, the F900 is an industry-ready printer that features the largest build size of any FDM machine.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.