Meet the Users of Materialise Magics: SOLIZE
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At Materialise, we want to power the AM champions around the world. That makes our Materialise Magics users more than customers - they’re key partners. We sat down with the team from one of our long-time champions to discover why they chose this software, how our products have helped them, and what the future holds.
Since 1990, Tokyo-based engineering company SOLIZE has supported product development from design and prototyping to production readiness. The team specializes in selling and maintaining 3D printers and software while also providing consultancy services during the implementation process. Today, the company runs 37 high-end 3D printers that help companies digitalize their product development using stereolithography, powder sintering, metal, and resin materials for contract prototyping and end products.
To learn more about how Materialise powers SOLIZE's AM business, we spoke to Mr. Yoshihiro Nomura (Head of AM System Sales) and Mr. Tohru Ota (Head of AM Service Bureau). Take a look at what they had to say about getting started, their thoughts on the future of AM, and how they believe it can help them reach our common sustainability goals.
How does SOLIZE use additive manufacturing (AM) to create end products?
In many different ways. For example, car manufacturers have used additive manufacturing to make spare parts for older models in recent times. They appreciate the fact that they can create as many as they need without using metal molds (i.e. Nissan Motors).
In an unusual case, we also make the exterior parts of the Smart Eye Camera developed by OUI Inc., a medical startup founded by an ophthalmologist from Keio University School of Medicine. The Smart Eye Camera (SEC) is a smartphone attachment medical device used to diagnose the anterior segment of the eye. It can diagnose almost all the different eye diseases that affect the anterior segment, including cataracts, the leading cause of world blindness. OUI Inc. tried to make prototypes using their own 3D printers but struggled with some technical issues. That’s why they contacted us for consultation.
We supported OUI Inc. with not only advanced 3D printing facilities but also engineering and design know-how. This made it possible to accelerate the POC cycles of design, manufacturing, and verification in a short time. As a result, we could help solve the problems that OUI Inc. had struggled with and contributed to the commercialization of the SEC.
How long have you been using Materialise software?
We first started using Magics in 2001. Before that, we had been using different software to design the supports for our stereolithography, but it wasn't very productive, and the volume of work was increasing, so we were constantly short-staffed, even with a large team. Magics had a big impact on the deployment of our powder sintering machines, as the Sinter module allowed us to use just one computer to do the work that we had previously done with several dozen staff and PCs.
We were also very impressed by a visit to the Materialise headquarters in Belgium in 2008. At that time, 3D printers were only used for prototyping in Japan, but since then, Materialise has been working hard to make 3D printing suitable for use on finished products, thanks to its software, technology, and continuous innovation.
“The most important advantage of using Materialise software is that we can automate our standardized tasks and settings. Magics, Sinter, Robot, and e-Stage all add value because they allow us to bring our knowledge and way of working into the automation process, making it personal to our business.”
— Mr. Tohru Ota, Head of AM Service Bureau at SOLIZE
What made you look for a software solution?
Around 2013, as 3D printers became increasingly popular, we began to receive more and more requests from private users for help and a greater variety of orders than ever before. At the same time, the human cost of modifying individual data increased, so efficiency became an issue. But by using Robot (part of the Streamics process control system) to automate the correction of data, we eventually automated around 80% of our work. To date, Materialise software has been instrumental in improving the efficiency of our operations.
Materialise software streamlines the operation of 37 machines from a wide range of manufacturers.
How does Materialise Magics power your AM operations?
When new software or new features are introduced, Materialise offers its heavy users the opportunity to beta test the software and give feedback on how it can be improved. SOLIZE also participates in this beta testing.
We think it's great that users can suggest new features and give feedback directly, not just through beta testing. It's fantastic to be able to share your insights and operational know-how and to have them reflected in software updates and suggestions from Materialise on how to use the software.
Until recently, when using the Sinter module (which automates the placement of parts on a powder sintering machine), we had to set the necessary parameters for the direction of manufacture and the gaps between the parts. The new update allows us to do this automatically, which has been a great help.
The most important advantage of using Materialise software is that we can automate our standardized tasks and settings. Magics, Sinter, Robot, and e-Stage all add value because they allow us to bring our knowledge and way of working into the automation process, making it personal to our business.
You also sell 3D printers. What kind of requests do your customers have for AM?
We feel that it is difficult to create value in this era by simply selling 3D printers or making what is requested. What our customers expect from us is to stay ahead of the curve, to be in touch with new technologies, and to continue to provide know-how and technology that will be useful for their products.
In particular, people are looking to us for information about our knowledge and expertise in both software and 3D printing. We have worked with Magics for a long time and have found that it is possible to automate the process at the customer's site and incorporate our 3D printers with Materialise software and our design expertise to provide a complete solution. For example, suggesting how to reduce the price of parts through optimal packing patterns. That’s something we want to do.
How will AM contribute to the manufacturing industry in a time of significant change?
In the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, we believe that AM will significantly contribute to solving some environmental issues, including logistics and materials, as it will enable us to manufacture in the right quantities, at the right time, and in the right place.
Furthermore, if we can make use of the features of AM, such as complex shapes that cannot be achieved with conventional manufacturing methods, we will be able to expand the use of AM beyond the automotive, aerospace, and medical equipment sectors where it is currently most prevalent. As demand for AM is expected to increase further in the future, we would like to continue to promote its possibilities by combining the know-how of ourselves and Materialise.
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