Hexagon and Stratasys unlock 3D-printed PEKK’s lightweighting potential for aerospace engineers with simulation

COBHAM, England, Nov. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Stratasys, a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, have applied Hexagon’s simulation technology to capture the behaviour of Stratasys’ high-performance, ultra-lightweight Antero™ reinforced polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) materials and its additive manufacturing processes. These simulations provide Stratasys customers with valuable insight that allows them to reduce weight and create new spacecraft and sustainable aircraft faster.

3D printed parts of plastic can transform aerospace. They reduce energy consumption and increase the number of available aircraft. It can also help reduce overengineering, waste, and lead times associated with traditional manufacturing. Due to safety-critical regulations and industry standards, plastics and additives for structural components have been slow in their adoption. This “missing link” allows designers to use these breakthroughs by providing engineering teams with the simulation tools they need to verify that these materials can achieve the required part performance when produced.

Rigorously-validated multi-scale models of these new high-performance aerospace-approved materials — Stratasys Antero 840CN03 and Antero 800NA — have now been added to Hexagon’s Digimat materials exchange ecosystem, with associated print process parameters from Stratasys’ aerospace-ready 3D printers. These proprietary models allow engineers to create digital twins which accurately predict how parts printed using the chosen material and an approved aerospace-ready Stratasys printhead will perform in a digital real world. This includes certification tests and real-world applications.

Digimat software is open-source and allows manufacturers to design lighter parts that match metals in performance. It also helps to avoid expensive overengineering by allowing them to use their preferred finite element analysis tools and computer-aided Engineering (CAE). Digimat, when used with Hexagon’s MSC Nastran (or MSC Apex) will speed up the documentation and certification of companies.

The Antero™ materials are already being used at the cutting edge of aerospace engineering, bringing major innovations to reality on time, such as Lockheed Martin using Antero 840CN03 to create NASA’s Orion spacecraft docking hatch cover. With these new simulation tools, more product developers can apply for and de-risk Stratasys aerospace additive manufacturing solutions.

Aziz Tahiri, vice president of global aerospace and defence for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “As the aerospace industry continues to push for more sustainable designs, unlocking the lightweighting potential of thermoplastics and 3D printing will be key. Utilizing the power of our simulation technology, manufacturers have access to proprietary information which allows engineers to “work the problem” with reliable information. We are excited to see the next chapter of Stratasys. It will allow the industry to create lighter and stronger designs in every design engineering tool, with less cost and bring next-generation aircraft to market quicker.

Foster Ferguson, aerospace business segment leader, Stratasys, said:Antero 800NA and Antero 830CN03 thermoplastics have unmatched strength, heat and chemical resistance. Combining Hexagon’s simulation insights with actionable data, 3D printed materials have the potential to replace certain applications in aluminium and steel. This is why they are seeing increasing use in aerospace. They can be used to meet the increasingly complex performance requirements of manufacturers and, by combining 3D printing with innovative modelling software, production times can be reduced from months to days.

Through the partnership between Stratasys and Hexagon, which has spanned more than a decade, several high-performance thermoplastic materials — including Ultem™ 9085, Ultem 9085 CG, Ultem™ 1010, and Nylon12CF — have been characterised and added to Hexagon’s Digimat material modelling software.

Media contacts:

Robin WolstenholmeGlobal Media Relations and Analyst Relations Manager 
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence Division
Tel: +44(0)7407 642190
Email: [email protected]    

The global press office includes April Six (agency): [email protected]


Hexagon is a leader in digital realities solutions. We combine software, sensors, and autonomous technology. We put data to work to increase productivity, quality, safety and efficiency across all industries, including manufacturing, infrastructure, the public sector and mobility applications.

Our technologies are shaping production and people-related ecosystems to become increasingly connected and autonomous – ensuring a scalable, sustainable future.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division is a division that uses data from design and manufacturing, production and metrology in order to make manufacturing more intelligent. Hexagon.com/mi provides more information.

Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm, HEXA B), has approximately 23,000 employees across 50 countries and net revenues of approximately 4.3 billion EUR. Learn more at hexagon.com. @HexagonAB.

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SOURCE Hexagon

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