In the world of advanced manufacturing, the term MES to describe software based Manufacturing Execution Systems is already fairly common. However, it is only now beginning to be introduced to AM, leading us to coin a new “AMES” (Additive Manufacturing Execution Systems) acronym. This is occurring now because only recently did AM start to become a true batch and potentially even a mass manufacturing technology.
Major industrial software developers already provide several MES solution but only a few are able to adapt these solutions to the unique characteristics of the end-to-end 3D printing production cycle, integrating strictly digital elements such as quotation enginers all the way to ERP, CRM and even 3D file protecion features.
Incubated at NASA, Authentise provides a cloud-based MES (Manufacturing Execution System) based on its 3DIAX modular software platform. This modular approach allows users to build enterprise-grade custom workflows for customers and partners, that seamlessly integrate with existing systems, leveraging the company’s APIs and developer tools. With multiple providers per module, users can find the ideal solution for each use case, in a standard format, with seamless deployment and lead up to a streamlined payment process managed by Authentise.
Authentise was created specifically to automate the additive manufacturing process. Its smart software can be used to automate machine actions and it has already been implemented even by large consumer product manufacturers to run the 3D printer fleet, currently mostly for prototyping purposes but with the option to scale up to larger batch production. Users can receive automated updates from the 3D printers on any device.
In terms of pure manufacturing management, the Authentise MES is already able to track multiple connected systems including 3D printers as well as post-processing stations and other resource and resupply stations. It can predetermine production steps for different machine and materials combination while also implementing machine learning capabilities from historical prints.
Materialise Streamics is a pre-configured AM-specific database system which helps to manage and streamline 3D printing operations and makes them an intrinsic part of a business. The system is used to handle print requests and queues on and also to analyze and improve process efficiency. Streamics is used to centralize management of day-to-day AM Operations, simplifying request submittal, manage request backlog and workflows, preparing parts and builds (through Magics and the Build Processor integration) and consult the status of all jobs and individual parts
In terms of process automation, Streamics is used to store, track and visualize AM process data. It can check machine availability and free build space while capturing machine utilization and part inspection information. The software then generates customized reports which can be used to further automate additional process steps. Through pre-configured or customized solution, Streamics users can expand operations with additional machines and print more parts with the same team or reliably ramp up production.
Enterprise software giant SAP began seriously looking at additive manufacturing through its SAP Distributed Manufacturing program, which seamlessly integrates AM production into a global part ordering management system. The system will likely eventually be integrated into its SAP MES program which connects, monitors, and controls manufacturing operations. The MES system integrates business and manufacturing processes to run efficient, high-quality production processes, access real-time information and improves reliability.
Kraftwurx Digital Factory
Krafwurx, a leading US-based AM service provider also developed and supports its own MES software, Digital Factory. It is marketed as an end-to-end solution for Digital manufacturing, e-commerce, factory automation, distributed manufacturing and product customization. The system includes an integrated suite of manufacturing software modules designed for additive manufacturing, from an Order Management Solution to production nesting (minimizing AM material waste), routing and more tools for productivity in an advanced digital platform.
The road to full AMES is still long.If you would like to learn more about MES and Automation for 3D printing, don’t miss SmarTech Publishing’s latest report.