Update on Evolve: Ensuring Repeatability, Reliability and Speed for Scale Production
Engineering the machine and process to work as consistently as production hardware ought to perform is where the company says its efforts have been focused.
“We have no prototyping mission at all,” says Bruce Bradshaw, chief business and marketing officer with Evolve Additive Solutions. Earlier this year, we reported on Evolve’s production-speed “STEP” technology for additive manufacturing, which 3D prints by applying polymer onto rollers
To illustrate the machine’s precision, he showed me the set of ABS sample parts seen in the video below
There is also ongoing analysis and reengineering of the machine just to make it robust. “If it gets used daily in a two-shift operation, as we hope, then there is only so much maintenance the user can afford to put up with,” he says.
Then there is the crucial matter of secondary processing. If the machine is additively producing parts at a rate of more than 100 pieces per hour, support structure removal has to proceed at the same rate. Ensuring the secondary process keeps pace is a vulnerability the company is currently working to overcome, he says. Part of the solution is proving to be support-structure design. Water-soluble supports that are 50 percent solid and 50 percent air ensure greater surface exposure to water, speeding the supports’ dissolution.
Work such as this will be done by Q4 of 2019, Bradshaw says. In that quarter and into early 2020, final or near-final versions of the STEP machines will be delivered to five beta-test customers, all of which will use the machine in production applications.