News and Events
06 Jan 2012 - Laser Prototypes Europe automates stereolithography support generation
Materialise is proud to report that Laser Prototypes Europe Ltd has enhanced its stereolithography support generation process by investing in e-Stage, an automated software solution by Materialise. e-Stage takes support generation for stereolithography to the next level, saving employees significant amounts of time and labour. The automated software is so intelligent that anyone with basic knowledge of stereolithography can create optimised build supports – all it takes is a mouse click.
Invest in automation
More and more organisations operating stereolithography machines are quickly realising the benefits of investing in the automated and intelligent e-Stage. The sophisticated software not only assesses where parts require build supports, but it also takes into consideration a host of factors such as re-coater load, resin viscosity, laser diameter, overcure values etc. to create an exact build simulation before generating optimal support structures. Guesswork is totally eliminated from the equation. “Now, at the push of a button, e-Stage gives you the best support solution, and in 99% of cases it’s better than a human. It really is that revolutionary,” explains Tom Walls, Managing Director of Laser Prototypes, the longest established bureau in the UK and Ireland offering solutions for almost every prototyping requirement.
Save both time and labour
Not only does e-Stage save significant amounts of time by negating the need to edit build supports, finishing time is also dramatically reduced. The strong and durable support structure is topped with ‘needle like’ part contact points that make e-Stage supports easy to remove. This lowers the risk of breaking small features during support removal and leaves less evidence of supports on the part surface. The intelligent e-Stage structure also grows around geometries for minimal part contact, meaning that side-wall scarring is eliminated and parts can be nested above others without the parts at the bottom suffering from support contact on their top surfaces. The release of e-Stage 6.0 in December 2011 delivered additional benefits, including the ability to specify ‘no support zones’ on parts, which has proved to save hours of editing supports for single geometries with complex internal features such as cooling channels. e-Stage 6.0 also enhanced the intelligence of the algorithm, resulting in less build support volume being required to successfully build parts.
“I have 20 years of experience using stereolithography and when Materialise said e-Stage would almost entirely remove the need for a technician to edit supports, I was sceptical. However, this software has helped to significantly reduce the amount of time technicians take to prepare builds, freeing them up to concentrate on other technical duties,” says Walls. “Well done Materialise, this is yet another fantastic product that will help newcomers to the technology, making their job easier.”
Increase workforce flexibility
For companies large and small, e-Stage undoubtedly optimises the stereolithography processes, allowing organisations to build more parts with their existing machines, shorten production times and increase part quality. “All that is required is the click of a mouse button so it’s much easier to cover holidays, without relying solely on a technician. We’ve found that managers of smaller organisations have particularly benefitted from employing e-Stage, as they’re able to allocate more time to higher-value tasks such as offering technical solutions to customers and investigating other ways to streamline their business rather than having to assist with editing supports for stereolithography builds”, remarks Luke Ambrose, UK & Ireland Account Manager – Software for Additive Manufacturing, Materialise.. Especially in a market where there is increased demand for speed and efficiency, e-Stage only makes good business sense.
The Materialise Group
With its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, and branches worldwide, Materialise has been playing an active role in the field of additive manufacturing since 1990. In addition to having the largest capacity of rapid prototyping equipment in Europe, Materialise also enjoys a stellar reputation as a provider of innovative software solutions. They have used their experience and expertise to create a better and healthier world through their involvement in rapid industrial and medical prototyping, and by providing bio-medical and clinical solutions such as medical image processing and surgical simulations. The advantages of additive manufacturing have been used by Materialise to develop unique solutions that make a world of difference for its many customers with their prototyping, production, and medical needs. These customers range from large companies in the automotive, consumer electronics, and consumables sectors; to famous hospitals, research institutes, and clinicians; to individual consumers interested in bringing their own unique creations to life through i.materialise or who want to purchase a celebrated .MGX design.