Castor Technologies, an Israeli startup specialised in the development of 3D printing software, has attracted funding from Asahi Kasei. The Japanese chemical giant already makes use of the services and software developed by Castor and has now decided to take that relationship a step further. The companies plan to pursue the synergies between the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) technical service for plastic products provided by Asahi Kasei and Castor’s software.
The fast-expanding 3D printing market has demonstrated growth of over 20% each year since 2015 and is predicted to continue to do so into the future. To capitalise on this development, more optimised technical support and faster response times to customer requests are becoming crucial.
Additive manufacturing increases the variety of options available to produce end-use parts. While it does not offer an alternative to all machining or injection moulding or casting, it does show the potential to redesign an existing part or to produce a new one using additive manufacturing to simplify design and improve functionality.
Currently, customers considering whether or not to opt to 3D print conventionally designed products, an engineer will typically select the candidate parts, sometimes modifying the shape to enhance 3D printability.
The decision support software developed by Castor uses a proprietary algorithm that can automatically select parts suitable for 3D printing from CAD drawings of thousands of parts in a bill of materials (BOM), and propose shape modifications. It identifies design optimisation possibilities, such as the consolidation of adjacent parts into a single part, weight reduction opportunities and the reduction of material waste in bulky parts. A technical and economic analysis is conducted, which generates a simple report showing the break-even point for additive manufacturing versus traditional manufacturing methods and providing feedback on each part. It recommends the suitable technology and material for the 3D printing and estimates the cost, lead-time and CO2 emissions for each part.
For Asahi Kasei, the potential benefit is clear. Its CAE technical service has focused on providing support for customers’ product design and development using engineering plastics. Adding the ability to assess part formability - and to include a simulation of manufacturing costs - will enable a swifter response to customer inquiries.
Customer enquiries that are first evaluated using Castor’s software and service before proceeding to the plastic CAE technical service developed by Asahi Kasei will allow more advanced simulations.
“Through this investment, we will further investigate the synergies between Castor’s software and Asahi Kasei’s CAE expertise,” said Yukihiro Bann, senior general manager for Business Strategy and Marketing, Mobility & Industrial SBU at Asahi Kasei Corp. “We aim to provide our customers with more advanced and automated real-time simulations, as well as to expand the range of technical services that both companies can offer.”