Automated stereolithography support generation with e-Stage

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.

For more information, visit: www.materialise.com/e-Tools

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