How does STEP technology work?
To better understand how STEP technology works, view our short video.
What makes STEP unique?
For the first time in 20 years a brand new and unique AM platform has been introduced. This patented technology uses standard production grade thermoplastics and is able to meet all five of the requirements that manufacturers demand for production. Those include: Cost, Time, Materials, Scalability and Quality and furthermore the STEP process does this all without compromise. STEP also has the ability to produce parts in high volume as well as customization within the same build.
What are the color capabilities of the SVP platform?
Today we are focused on black as the SVP goes to market. Other dark colors that include some carbon are possible as shown by the blue parts that we have printed. We are also developing color capabilities with partners within development agreements and can work with you to get the material properties that you need.
How did the vision to create Evolve Additive Solutions come about?
Companies have brought additive manufacturing to the production floor for jigs and fixtures allowing manufacturers to be more agile with their production lines. However, the promise of AM being used for production parts of 10,000, 50,000 or even a 1 million parts a year has fallen short. There is limited niche’ application examples for certain technologies, but nothing that offers a true manufacturing solution with real world thermoplastics, surface quality and mechanical properties as well as the throughput demanded by manufacturers. What’s more, no AM technology has the ability to integrate into the manufacturing floor from both a hardware and software perspective allowing organizations to leverage AM for their Industry 4.0 initiatives. Starting in 2009 as a group of manufacturing industry titans, we believed that additive would one day become a viable solution for production at scale. We were all driven to make this a reality. Our mission and vision was entirely around manufacturing. We spoke with experts across many industries, seeking to understand what requirements must be met to adopt additive into their manufacturing process. It didn’t matter who we talked to. Everyone demanded the same 5 requirements. For Additive to be a viable in manufacturing, it must print with engineering-grade plastic materials already used in injection molding, with the same quality, comparable speed and scalability at the same or better cost. We heard the market clearly. There was no additive technology that existed that met all 5 of these requirements. So, we set out to build it ourselves. We created a solution that meets the customers’ requirements in Materials, Quality, Speed, Scalability, and Cost. To accomplish this, we had to invent an entirely new process which is known as STEP: Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process. This technology is truly, a new revolution in additive manufacturing.
What is the STEP technology? And what are the main benefits of this technology?
Unlike other additive technologies that have been brought to market in the last 10 years, most if not all have been derivatives of an existing technology, STEP is completely new. Similar to injection molding, STEP technology uses heat, pressure and cooling to produce parts. This occurs in the a three-step process of Imaging the piece to be printed, precise alignment between the incoming layer and build, and finally the fusing of these layers together. This process produces a fully dense part, avoiding layer lines with the surface finish and mechanical properties of IM. The benefits of the technology are numerous • Faster time to market with low total cost of ownership; allowing for a competitive advantage and increased revenues • Speed due to a “toolless” technology free from molds and casts; cycle times are faster to that of injection molding and production speeds of up to 50X faster than existing additive manufacturing solutions • Quality parts are on par or better to that of injection molding; repeatability, surface finish & mechanical properties • Scalability on the manufacturing floor with IIoT/Industry 4.0 • Materials that are standard engineering plastics and the ability for multi-material printing within the same layer • Cost per part and surface quality comparable to traditional manufacturing • Delivers mass customization capabilities across all build volumes STEP is the first AM technology for polymers introduced in the last 20-25 years. STEP is unique and delivers on five key attributes manufacturers are demanding. Are there still limitations to additive manufacturing using plastics? Of course. With any technology there are compromises and the world of AM is no exception. The application is what drives which plastic material would best be suited for the final product. But many manufactures today are limited by the machines capability and can only use certain materials. Plastic properties vary in strength, durability, etc. However, with the direction that we have set for Evolve we are in a unique position. Our roadmap includes the ability to use both amorphous and crystalline materials in the same machine and even in the same build. This will allow us and our customers to grow and serve many markets and applications.
What is Evolves’ vision of the market (in particular in terms of mass customization)? Any predictions for the next 5 - 10 years?
According to industry research, the plastics industry is a $300B global market and growing. This growth is driven by a number of factors, such as light weighting in automobiles, infrastructure growth in developing markets and also mass customization. As consumer demands rise and competition increases, we are seeing a much higher demand for personalization and customization. This increases value as end customers are willing to pay a higher price for a one-of-a-kind or limited-edition product. AM is what unlocks these capabilities because of the quick turnaround using digital technologies and being very cost effective for low production runs. I see these trends continuing both in the short and long term.
Who is Evolve Additive Solutions? (A brief introduction)
Founded in 2017, Evolve Additive Solutions is a manufacturer of capital equipment for the additive manufacturing (AM) industry with a mission of providing world class production solutions. We work with clients to simplify and secure their supply chain by bringing additive into the production environment reducing critical failures that could impact their operational efficiencies. Our patented STEP TM (Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process) Technology is the first of its kind in the industry. Evolve’s STEP technology sits alongside traditional manufacturing processes, such as injection molding (IM), on the manufacturing floor and augments an organization’s production capabilities allowing freedom of design and faster time to market with “toolless” production. Evolve is pioneering the manufacturing market with technologies and solutions centered around production applications with real-world thermoplastics.
Who is your ideal client and why?
Evolve is the perfect solution for manufacturing organizations looking to not only produce great quality parts bringing all of the benefits of AM to production, but secure their supply chain and mitigate the risk associated with global disruptions. We enable our customers to do so via connectivity of a manufacturing network comprised of their connected factories. When Evolve’s clients implement smart manufacturing, they have visibility into the utilization across their network. This also means that they can recognize higher productivity, increased profits, reduced labor costs, manufacture goods on demand, lower their warehousing costs as well as numerous other benefits. Evolve is best suited for clients that have multiple locations, whether domestic or international. If a manufacturing facility is over capacity in production, has a location that has an unplanned outage, is unable to transport goods or physical molds to a destination, or if nations are locked down due to political trade policy, locations on the network can facilitate rerouting of production to another plant. This is made possible via the dashboard views and the digital twin. Smart manufacturing also means that clients are no longer dependent on traditional IM means of design, prototyping, tooling, warehousing, and transportation because these activities are eliminated in the AM platform. When you start to think about the steps, time and cost they are sufficiently less due to digitization and the creation of the digital mold and the virtual warehouse in which they reside.
What is the Evolve SVP Platform?
The SVP TM (Scaled Volume Production) Platform is designed for the connected factory and is purpose built to satisfy the higher volume and quality needs of an additive capability in a production setting similar to IM. Our focus is providing manufacturing solutions for volume production of end-use AM parts. The SVP Platform uses the proprietary STEP Technology. The core of the technology is electrophotographic deposition. This is a proven 2D printing technology that we adapted and built onto. A 2D slice of a part, with part material(s) and support, is deposited onto a belt in one single image layer, then with heat, pressure and cooling it is fused onto the incoming layer in the built. This process is repeated until the entire build is complete; this creates a fully dense part with isotropic properties in all directions.
What is the best thing about Evolve Additive Solutions?
For starters, hands down – it is our superior produced-part quality. Individuals that have seen our produced parts are blown away by the surface finish, the fine details, the density, and overall appearance. When our CEO, Steve Chillscyzn, established the company he spoke to organizations across the globe and asked them “what would it take for you to seriously consider AM for production parts?”, they told him that they wanted the same thermoplastic materials they currently use in injection molding, the same speed and throughput, the same quality, the scalability and the same of better cost as traditional manufacturing. Steve recognized that there was technology or solution that met all five of these criteria’s, so it set out and built it himself and today these five pillars are the basis on what Evolve Additive Solutions was built upon. Secondly, international brands have entrusted us. Our two investors in our technology are Stanley Black & Decker and the LEGO Group. Both organizations made their investment as they believe that this technology will impact the AM market and they were both committed to bring the technology to commercialization. They saw the technology as highly scalable with the ability to change way in which customizable end parts are produced.