As part of a joint investment with digital inkjet technology developer Xaar plc (LON: XAR), polymer AM solutions leader Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS) acquired 15% of the shares in Xaar 3D Ltd in 2018, with the option to increase its ownership in the new company by up to 30%. That’s just what happened a year later, when Stratasys increased its stake in Xaar to 45%. This week, Stratasys announced that it has now acquired all the remaining shares of Xaar 3D Ltd, which will help speed up its own production-scale AM capabilities.
Earlier this year, Stratasys introduced the first system powered by Xaar 3D’s powder-based SAF technology, the Stratasys H350 3D printer, which is part of its production-scale H Series printers. SAF, or Selective Absorption Fusion, was designed to meet the needs of volume manufacturing by using industrial-grade technology to achieve higher levels of production of 3D printed end-use parts. Additionally, the technology is said to be able to precisely control the printing process to order to achieve accurate, consistent production at competitive costs. It does this by carrying important 3D printing steps across the print bed in the same direction in order to achieve a uniform thermal experience for all parts, no matter where they’re placed in the build.
“We formed Xaar 3D on the premise that we could help existing powder bed technology make a major leap forward, and that’s what’s happening thanks to SAF technology. We have been able to significantly improve thermal management for more consistent and reliable parts while giving customers the production control they need,” said Ronen Cohen, General Manager of Xaar 3D Ltd. “As part of Stratasys, we will continue to rapidly advance H Series 3D printer development while leveraging Stratasys’ global go-to-market infrastructure and blue-chip customer relationships to enable more customers to benefit from SAF-powered additive manufacturing.”
The SAF-based printers are the result of over ten years of intense R&D work, and SAF technology is said to be a more versatile, economical, and faster choice than traditional methods of manufacturing. The H Series 3D printers it powers use multiple on-board sensors to log build data for process traceability, which allows the data to stay under a customer’s control. This allows the materials to be controlled, tracked, and traced, and the print settings can also be tweaked to meet individual customer needs.
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“We are committed to being the leading provider of production-scale polymer 3D printing for our customers as additive manufacturing continues to transform industries around the world. The H350 printer and SAF technology are central to that mission, giving us a powerful platform for meeting the needs of customers in industries such as commercial goods, automotive, consumer goods, and consumer electronics. Customers tell us this technology’s consistent performance at higher volumes helps them grow their businesses and provides them a significant competitive advantage,” said Stratasys CEO Dr. Yoav Zeif. “We are excited to welcome the outstanding team of innovators from Xaar 3D to the Stratasys family.”
The H350 SAF printer has been installed at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, in addition to multiple beta customer sites across the US and Europe. Together, Stratasys and the Xaar 3D team will continue to develop SAF technology and the H Series 3D printer platform, and general availability of the system is expected before the end of 2021.