Helio Additive will launch new slicing software that “increases the yield and reliability of 3D printing”

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Chinese software startup Helio Additive has unveiled plans to launch a new program designed to help manufacturers around the world increase throughput and consistency.

Helio Additive’s software is built around a physics-based AI engine, which adapts the way parts vulnerable to warping are sliced, so that they are less likely to develop the type of non- conformities during printing which make them unsuitable for use.

In doing so, the company says its technology enables users to better avoid print failures, achieve up to ten times the cost-per-part ratio, and ultimately “overload” the whole of their 3D printing workflow.

“Over the past five years, 3D printing hardware has outpaced the growth of software capabilities, leaving a bottleneck for companies ready to adopt the additive [manufacturing] in their workflow,” said Helio Additive CEO David Hartmann. “At Helio, our goal is to reduce the gap between software and hardware and ultimately increase the yield and reliability of 3D printed parts in production.”

The Helio Additive software home page. Image via Helio addon.

Helio Additive’s new artificial intelligence engine

According to Helio Additive, on average one in six 3D prints fail and the technology has a “scrap rate” of over 80%, so it has “far too high” costs compared to traditional manufacturing. Additionally, additive manufacturing adopters who intend to use the technology for mass production applications often need quality assurances, which the company says is currently lacking in the industry.

To help these manufacturers achieve greater certainty, the company has therefore developed a new AI engine, capable of breaking down 3D models into unique voxels. Once done, the software plots the stress relaxation and thermal history of each of these voxels, before using the resulting data to adapt the way the parts are cut, to avoid failures caused by changes heat during printing.

“The next generation of printers and materials have extremely powerful performance envelopes, but print at around a fifth of their maximum speed,” says Helio Additive. “At the same time, engineers struggle with repeatability and prints fail up to five times before getting a good print. Helio’s physics-based software uses machine learning and physics simulation to improve the repeatability of printed parts by linking the printing process to the required results.

Although Helio Additive recognizes that how the hot end of a system affects prints when passed over it may be different, as polymers like PLA do not suffer as much from temperature changes, it highlights how the coefficient Higher thermal of materials like PC and PA sometimes causes them to experience quality issues when subjected to short bursts of heat.

Using its platform, the company believes users can not only improve layer adhesion and geometric conformance of these parts, but equip their machines with a process-optimizing “brain.” In fact, while the company is still in the early stages of rolling out the software, it anticipates that in the future, this “brain” could even be used to help more new users get into the mass production.

Three-dimensional view of a 3D printed object, colored by the relaxation of level stresses.
Three-dimensional view of a 3D printed object, colored by the relaxation of level stresses. Image via Helio addon.

Growing in the 3D printing industry

Since its establishment in the city of Changshu in 2020, Helio Additive has embarked on a journey to develop its core technology and deploy it in manufacturing environments. Meanwhile, the company has assembled a team with a strong mix of academic and industry expertise, including former Covestro man David Hartmann, and its technical directors Zhenqing Li and Priyesh Patel, who hail from India respectively. Ohio State and UCL.

Currently a team of just ten, Helio Additive is now beginning to strengthen its business and technology teams and is reportedly actively recruiting engineers, data scientists and programmers in Changshu and Shanghai to support its continued expansion.

The company is also looking to gain traction in the 3D printing space through industry partnerships, and it recently announced such a collaboration with Amesos as well as one of its investors, Polymaker. Working with both companies, Helio Additive is set to help them perfect a new approach to high-speed 3D printing that they announced earlier this year.

Based on Amesos’ Blade 1 system and custom Polymaker material, the companies say their “FFF 2.0” methodology will solve a number of drawbacks associated with classic FFF 3D printing, especially those related to throughput.

In addition to the R&D work it is carrying out as part of the project, Helio Additive is also working on a standalone version of its software, which it intends to market. As of now, there’s no confirmed date for the platform’s alpha release, but it’s expected to launch later this year, and the company is actively looking for partners to test its capabilities.

Those interested in learning more about Helio Additive’s physics-based artificial intelligence engine can do so through its website.

David Hartmann, CEO of Helio Additive.
David Hartmann, CEO of Helio Additive. Photo via Helio Additive.

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The featured image shows the Helio Additive software home page. Image via Helio addon.

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