In this third of our series of blogs about Polygonica deployment in the cloud we focus on CADS Additive, developers of the AM Studio print preparation software.
CADS Additive is a relative newcomer to the additive software market. They are an offshoot of CADS Gmbh, a specialist software consultancy based in Perg, Austria who focus on solutions for medical and manufacturing engineering. In 2016 CADS formed a joint venture with leading metal-printer manufacturers SLM Solutions to develop print preparation software specifically for SLM machines. After extensive evaluation they licensed Polygonica in 2017. In 2019 the joint venture was dissolved and CADS Additive is now a subsidiary of CADS.
AM Studio is desktop-based print preparation software which is also available as a direct plugin to PTC’s Creo. The desktop version can import CAD models directly from a variety of leading formats as well as STLs.
It offers innovative ways to help the user optimally orient and arrange the parts on the print bed based on their chosen priorities.
Current versions of the software have a strong focus on metal printing and CADS Additive have invested a lot of time and effort to develop support generation strategies that are proven to be strong and reliable whilst reducing unnecessary material usage.
Finally, there is a lightning fast slicer, suitable for rapidly generating and managing the huge volumes of slice data needed for modern high-tolerance and large-area industrial printers
We met up with Daniel Stadlmayr, Technical Director and COO at CADS Additive, to discuss how they’ve made AM Studio available in the cloud, how they make use of Polygonica, and where they are headed next.
What would you say is AM Studio’s competitive strength?
So far we’ve been targeting metal printing. Metal is expensive. Metal printers are expensive. Waste of time, waste of materials – it’s all expensive. So your software needs to do a good job, not just look good.
As a software consultancy the software team at CADS have a fantastic background in delivering advanced 3D software solutions. When we built AM Studio we were working with one of the leading manufacturers of metal printers on the planet and back then it was built to their spec.
So, it just works. That’s its competitive strength.
It also helps that the software is quite new. There’s almost no technical debt so we can move forward fast, and we are. And we were able to benchmark a range of software components and pick the best ones – including Polygonica of course.
We’ve now direct reseller and white-label relationships with a much bigger set of OEMs – both software and hardware – including companies such as EOS, DMG Mori, pL LEHMANN and Rena Technologies.
How does CADS Additive use Polygonica?
Polygonica underpins a range of operations in AM Studio. As you know, we’ve a pretty smart team so there’s lots of cases where we could have used Polygonica but didn’t – for example Polygonica’s slicer is pretty good, but we rather like our own in-house slicer.
But when it comes to the heavyweight 3D mesh operations like healing, self-intersection removal, hollowing, offsetting and Booleans we found that Polygonica was simply the best tool around. Going back to “it just works” – there’s just some algorithms in Polygonica that even though we could have written them ourselves there’s no way our in-house versions could have handled all the geometric edge-cases as well as Polygonica does.
So, of course it saved us development time and helped us get to market faster but we also feel it gives our customers a level of reliability we couldn’t otherwise have reached.
But … I don’t want to give away too many secrets, so I think I’ll stop there.
So, you have AM Studio on the desktop and in CREO. What else?
We’re really happy to have partnered with designairspace, who provide cloud-based workstations to run heavyweight 3D CAD and BIM software such as Creo, Solidworks, NX etc. So you can now rent AM-Studio on the cloud, on a monthly or yearly SaaS-basis, rather than having to invest in a full perpetual install-based license.
That’s quite unusual. What made you make AM Studio available in this way?
Well, of course it was originally a way to adapt to the new normal of COVID and working from home, and we’ve seen some great uptake already because of that.
But also, we’re realistic. AM Studio isn’t exactly a household brand yet, even amongst metal printing specialists. We’re very confident of the product, and our partnership with designairspace provides a quick and simple way for printer users to share our confidence in the software. Our experience is once used on a real project the product will sell itself. So with designairspace, users now have the option to use it when they need it, then choose if and when they are ready to invest in a desktop license.
Sounds great. So what’s coming in the future?
The user-base for the AM-Studio product family is growing continuously and we’re actively soliciting feedback from that community. The main wish we’re hearing from them is more advanced automation to streamline the data preparation process, so one of things we’re working on is AI-based machine learning specifically to improve automation of support structures. The other companies in our group, CADS and CADS Engineering, are already experts in AI/ML technologies so we’re making use of that expertise to accelerate our development in this area.
From a functional point of view there is a lot in the pipeline. Two big features are FEA-based optimization and of course 3D packaging algorithms which are a must for improving the ROI of some metal AM workflows. We’re also adding advanced 3 and 5-axis toolpaths. This extends the range of the software to both DED and binder jetting and ultimately to more advanced polymer printing.
I think you can see we plan to continue to offer the AM Studio community great new tools based on best-in-class components and of course working closely with the teams at Polygonica and MachineWorks will be a big part of that.
See the previous articles in this series here: