Our automated support generation software has become indispensable for many companies working with resin-based 3D printing machines. The huge return on investment makes Materialise e-Stage a must-have. Metal companies, however, were still required to spend a lot of time and effort in manually creating the best support structures for their metal components. We pushed the boundaries of automation and today even metal companies can experience the automatic creation of metal support structures!
Materialise e-Stage is the only software in the world that automates support generation for titanium, stainless steel and aluminum parts. Hannes Brenning, Process Engineer at our metal competence center in Bremen, Germany, was one of the first to try out this revolutionary software.
Hannes, you are responsible for preparing data for Metal 3D Printing and operating the machines. Why is automating the generation of support structures so interesting? What challenges did you encounter before using Materialise e-Stage for titanium, stainless steel and aluminum?
Hannes: “It takes a lot of time to create support structures that anchor the part sufficiently and prevent warpage, but which are at the same time easy to remove. Especially parts with a complex geometry need to be prepared very thoroughly as each surface that lacks sufficient support may cause defects in the part or even build crashes."
What was your experience when testing the software?
Hannes: “We had to start from scratch when first testing Materialise e-Stage for Metal, because nobody had done it before. We had to go through a short period of trial and error before we got the hang of which parameters were the main influence on successfully printing metal parts with e-Stage, but once we knew which dials to turn, the results were very impressive.”
Were you immediately willing to try this new software or did you hesitate?
Hannes: “From the beginning, we saw a lot of potential in Materialise e-Stage for Metal. Especially in terms of reducing the time spent on supporting metal parts and support removal. A lot of people don’t know how much time and work is needed to remove metal supports, and e-Stage support structures are as easy to remove as it gets. I am not exaggerating if I say that you can remove most of the support without using any tools.”
“I am not exaggerating if I say that you can remove most of the support without using any tools.”
What were your first impressions after trying the software?
Hannes: “Materialise e-Stage has been running very smoothly right from the start of our test phase. The UI is easy to understand and the explanations that can be opened while editing the parameters are very helpful. We were actually not expecting to get good results as quickly as we did.”
What kind of part did you print and was it successful from the first try?
Hannes: “We limited our initial test phase to small and medium-sized parts (with a bounding box of up to 100 x 100 x 100 mm3) since these parts made up the main body of parts that were being ordered by our customers at that time.”
“In our tests we could save up to 60% of the material that was used for support structure compared to the SG+ module of Materialise Magics. Another aspect is the powder that you can save with e-Stage support. Even with perforated SG+ support, you will not able to remove all of the powder. With Materialise e-Stage for Metal, you get very close to 100% powder saving from the support structure. In addition, the amount of time you save in data preparation is amazing. It basically comes down to orienting a part and running e-Stage, which usually takes about a minute.”
“With Materialise e-Stage for Metal, you get very close to 100% powder saving from the support structure.”
Will you continue using e-Stage or will you go back to your previous software?
“We will definitely keep on using Materialise e-Stage. In fact, we will be expanding our usage of it as much as possible. People that already want to learn more about the challenges of generating support structures for Metal AM, should for sure watch this webinar that explains a bit how the software works".