Materialise, a global leader in 3D printing solutions, introduced CO-AM, an open software platform to manage the additive manufacturing (AM) production process more efficiently. CO-AM will give manufacturers cloud-based access to a full range of software tools that allow them to plan, manage and optimize every stage of their AM operations. With CO‑AM, Materialise addresses the untapped potential to use AM for serial manufacturing and mass personalization.
The Materialise CO‑AM software platform builds on more than three decades of 3D printing experience and is an important milestone in the company’s strategy to offer cloud-based access to its entire software suite. The open architecture of the platform lets users integrate all of their preferred tools, allowing customers in major manufacturing industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer, medical and energy, to always have access to the latest software innovations and to scale their operations based on their current needs. At the same time, CO‑AM will provide seamless access to production data, allowing manufacturers to continuously monitor and improve their AM workflows.
The untapped potential of AM
Manufacturing companies increasingly turn to AM to produce at scale. Today however, most enterprise users adopt AM for prototyping. AM production still requires a lot of skilled manual intervention and disconnected data makes it hard to achieve the consistent and repeatable quality standards that are needed to mass-produce identical or customized products. By providing access to their preferred software in an open, cloud-based platform, CO‑AM will help manufacturers unlock the full power of AM.
“This is an important milestone in our history”, says Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise. “CO‑AM offers new opportunities for AM users to innovate at unprecedented levels with their preferred software solutions. This open platform will allow the AM community to co-develop solutions that create competitive advantages for individual companies and empower entire industries. At the same time, this business model generates new revenue streams for hardware and software partners.”
A learning platform
At the heart of the CO‑AM platform is a data-lake that connects to all production tools and keeps track of what is happening on the production floor. The ability to monitor and analyze production data will enable operators to define and store their own unique workflows in a knowledge database, empowering them to continuously improve the production process. This creates an AI-powered learning platform where every printed part has the potential to be better than the previous one.
To successfully scale their AM operations, manufacturers require an open ecosystem that connects to a wide range of technologies and integrates with existing production infrastructures. The Materialise CO-AM platform presents an open software architecture that provides companies direct access to multiple hardware technologies and their preferred tools from Materialise and other software developers, supporting them along every step of their AM journey – from planning and printing to quality control.
Materialise plans to offer more than 25 software applications on its CO-AM platform, including seamless integration with Magics; AM Watch for shopfloor data collection, and its Build Processors for connectivity with more than 150 different 3D printing systems. The company will also open the platform to independent software vendors and has already onboarded several third-party applications, including AM-Flow and Castor.
“The next step for change in the AM Industry is automation”, commented Stefan Rink, CEO AM-Flow. “There are many digital dots to connect to create a full automation value chain. Teaming up with other solution providers of this chain is a prerequisite for the growth and scalability of Additive Manufacturing production. AM-Flow is very excited to be one of the first partners of the Materialise CO‑AM platform.”
Omer Blaier, CEO at CASTOR, added: “CASTOR is joining forces with Materialise to capture and deliver the full potential of AM to manufacturers. By integrating our solutions on a unified CO‑AM platform, we can offer a unique combination of engineering intelligence and automation, identify suitable candidates for additive manufacturing amongst thousands of parts and go all the way to the final product within one solution, seamlessly.”
Materialise invited AM software vendors to connect their applications to the CO‑AM software platform for selected pilot projects. Development partners will get access to the software development kit (SDK), application programming interfaces (APIs), and staging environment, enabling them to natively build proprietary or co-developed solutions within the platform. The company is already working with selected customers and plans to provide broader access to the CO‑AM platform over the coming months.