Stratasys, the current AM market leader, took a new “step” in ensuring its leadership will endure by officially unveiling the spin-off of its Selective Toner Electrophotographic Process (STEP) technology and forming of Evolve Additive Solutions.
After nearly 10 years as an incubation project, the new organization will be led by a dedicated management team, exclusively focused on bringing the proprietary STEP technology to market – aimed at delivering high-volume production additive manufacturing at breakthrough speeds compared to other commercially available additive processes.
Traditional manufacturers have long sought to combine the benefits of additive manufacturing with the material, quality and economics of traditional production processes. Built on Stratasys’ pioneering development and 3D printing and additive manufacturing expertise, Evolve’s STEP technology is aimed at producing parts at a cost, quality and throughput comparable to traditional manufacturing processes. The solution is intended for high-volume production runs into the hundreds of thousands per year. As such, it is expected to compete with traditional processes, such as injection molding.
“As an independent company, Evolve will best be able to focus on the advancement of the technology, provide the entrepreneurial environment and management equity incentives suitable for early stage efforts and drive the customer relationships and partnerships to foster further development and initial market adoption,” said Stratasys CEO, Ilan Levin. “As an equity stakeholder, we look forward to collaborating with Evolve and supporting this initiative to help make it a success.”
Designed for automated manufacturing and factory-floor integration, STEP empowers users to utilize production-grade thermoplastics for volume production applications across multiple industries, including Consumer, Automotive, Industrial and Medical. The highly scalable and extensible solution combines Evolve’s own proprietary technology with the proven capability of electrophotographic imaging.
“We are excited to introduce Evolve Additive Solutions and proprietary STEP technology,” said Steve Chillscyzn, CEO of Evolve Additive Solutions and co-inventor of STEP. “We believe the STEP Technology is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap in the market not yet addressed by additive or traditional manufacturing technologies,” continued Chillscyzn. “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. And we’re confident in the Evolve team’s ability to make this technology a success.”
The STEP process combines time-tested 2D imaging technology with proprietary IP developed by Evolve to precisely align incoming layers and sophisticated bonding techniques that create final parts that are fully dense with isotropic properties of injection molding.
Specifically, STEP technology introduces a range of new features, including:
- Engineering-grade thermoplastic materials (amorphous and semi-crystalline)
- Production speeds of up to 50X faster than existing additive manufacturing solutions
- Cost per part and surface quality comparable to traditional manufacturing
- Isotropic properties in X, Y and Z directions on par with injection molding
- Industry 4.0 and automation factory floor integration
- Multiple material printing capable within the same layer
- Full color printing capability – including spot and process.
Evolve has already commenced seeking initial purchase orders from several leading automotive, consumer goods and aerospace companies during its alpha stage. Over the next 12 months, Evolve also plans to engage new customers to evaluate beta systems for applications in volume production environments across many vertical markets. Parties interested in beta opportunities are encouraged to contact Evolve directly. Evolve has not yet announced the date of expected general availability of its products.
Industry Consultant Todd Grimm commented, “Evolve’s STEP process is interesting because it brings a completely new approach to production environments using additive manufacturing, yet it prints using production grade thermoplastics, which is what manufacturers are most familiar with when producing parts conventionally. Having had the opportunity to get a glimpse early on, it’s very encouraging to see how Evolve has progressed the development of the STEP process.”
The seasoned senior management team of Evolve Additive Solutions brings over 40 years of combined experience in additive manufacturing and includes such industry leaders as: