Evolve Additive Solutions has just announced a technology partnership and Joint Development Agreements with Eastman Kodak.
Focused squarely on manufacturing applications, Evolve’s unique STEP technology is targeting commercial release in 2020.
Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process (STEP) is built upon collaborative and proprietary technologies; today’s announcement notes that “Kodak has also licensed relevant intellectual property to Evolve in support of the development effort.” This licensing makes sense, with Kodak’s four-decade-plus work with electrophotographic technology. Evolve is transforming the KODAK NEXPRESS Platform for additive manufacturing, and is “utilizing a Kodak-developed toner manufacturing process to make the part toners for the Evolve system.”
“STEP is truly the first new technology brought to additive in the last 20 years especially on the plastics front. There are certainly some great advancements with derivatives of existing technologies from SLS or DLP. Electrophotography is a key component to the new process and having a strategic partner like Kodak allows us to leverage their extensive knowledge and proven technology,” Evolve CEO Steve Chillscyzn tells Fabbaloo today.
Partnerships are critical to advancing additive manufacturing, and have been a foundational key for the team at Evolve.
When last we spoke in September, Chillscyzn noted that, “In the next 18-24 months there will be a lot of activity around commercializing STEP technology.” The alpha customer introduced at that time also underscores the importance of this activity and focus on a collaborative environment, as today’s announcement notes the first STEP system installed has taken its place “at a strategic partner location utilizing resources from both Kodak and Evolve.”
Evolve will also be turning to Kodak for a toner manufacturing process, hardware, materials, workflow software, services, and support.
For its part, Kodak has been visibly dipping its toes more and more into the waters of the 3D printing industry.
Last year, the company introduced the Portrait desktop 3D printer, created in partnership with Smart International. Leveraging the expertise of existing participants in 3D printing has proven a successful strategy for established companies looking to get into the additive arena, and has shown strength for the Portrait. Looking to the industrial side with its work with Evolve, Kodak is pulling no punches on its interest in additive manufacturing.
“We are very encouraged by the opportunity to expand our electrophotographic platform capabilities outside of 2D imaging to the 3D printing or additive manufacturing sector. Having worked closely with the talented staff of engineers working on the STEP technology for several years, we are confident Evolve will help change the way the organizations approach production of plastic parts for manufacturing,” said John O’Grady, President, Print Systems Division, Kodak.
This particular partnership is notable for a look inside the development of STEP, as slowly we learn more about all that has gone into the new process.
Evolve itself evolved from an R&D project at Stratasys, from which the company spun off earlier this year. Years in R&D labs, and working behind closed doors with partners like Kodak, LEGO Brand Group, and Stanley Black & Decker, have led to the unveiling of the process and, slowly, more details about what makes it tick.
“Creating a strong technology partnership with Kodak is an important element in the development of STEP. The selection of the Kodak systems and technology for STEP allows us to deliver to the market a highly-reliable solution, based on a proven engine that is recognized as one of the most productive printing systems in world. By working with Kodak, we have a technology and a collaborative relationship that will not only allow us to get to market quickly, but we will have the throughput expansion to grow as we push STEP capabilities into the future,” said Chillscyzn.
We will of course continue to stay in touch with the team at Evolve for additional updates as available on the latest STEPs forward.