It’s Week 46 of 2018, and this week was perhaps the most eventful week of the year for the additive manufacturing industry. All of this excitement was radiating from the halls of the exhibition center in Frankfurt, Germany, home of the immensely popular 3D printing conference and trade show Formnext.
Over the four-day stretch, there was an endless parade of new 3D printers, riveting announcements, and groundbreaking technology showcased throughout the exhibition floor. Here’s a recap of the most exciting revelations from Formnext 2018.
Unsurprisingly, the Formnext exhibition floor was bustling with new metal 3D printing advancements. Here are some of the most noteworthy:
On the very first day of the festivities, the Desktop Metal kicked off Formnext by sharing that it was prepared to install the Production System for its first customer – an undisclosed Fortune 500 company – at the beginning of 2019. Alongside this announcement was an even more noteworthy news: the advancement of this highly anticipated mass production metal 3D printer.
The metal 3D printing startup revealed that the Production System had been improved in nearly every conceivable way. For starters, the accelerated print speed has been increased to 12,000 cm3 per hour, making it the fastest metal additive manufacturing system currently on the market. The machine also has an increased the build volume to 750 x 330 x 250 mm, a whopping 225 percent improvement over the initial system.
Desktop Metal also refined the process used to produce metal parts on the Production System. The new and improved system is equipped with two full-width print bars, advanced powder spreaders and an anti-ballistic system that will help spread the powder across the build chamber and print in a single quick pass. It will utilize 32,768 piezo inkjet nozzles, enabling the broadest range of binder chemistries to print an array of metals at a rate of three billion drops per second.
Earlier this year, the global tech titan HP made waves throughout the industry with the unveiling of HP Metal Jet, an advanced metal 3D printing technology that is capable of production production-grade metal parts at a high volume. Most of the announcements made by HP at Formnext revolved around its flagship Multi Jet Fusion technology. Among them included global partnerships that will provide RecTech 3D and Forecast 3D withHP’s Jet Fusion 3D 4210 3D printers, as well as new 3D printing applications shared by BMW Group and Volkswagen Group.
However, HP also seized the attention of Formnext visitors by showcasing the highly anticipated HP Metal Jet on the exhibition floor. The manufacturer claims that the system will provide up to 50 times more productivity than other metal additive manufacturing techniques at a significantly lower cost.
3D Systems, one of the veterans of the additive manufacturing industry, also generated a lot of buzz at Formnext with a couple of metal 3D printing developments. The manufacturer debuted the latest additions to its DMP platform, including the new DMP Factory 500.
Developed in collaboration with GF Machining Solutions, this metal 3D printing system utilizes both additive and subtractive technology to produce high-quality metal parts. The machine has a 500 x 500 x 500 mm build volume and offers a lower total cost of operation.
3D Systems also took the opportunity to demonstrate its new high-speed wire EDM machine, which will be made available in 2019. This system fuses high-speed production with the ability to cut small metal parts from the build plate without causing any damage or alteration to the parts.
One of the most unique demonstrations of metal-based digital fabrication featured at Formnext was the controlled atmosphere LENS 3D Hybrid Machine Tool by Optomec. The industrial 3D printer manufacturer’s latest system is said to be the first to use additive and subtractive processes to create parts from aluminum, titanium and other reactive metals.
Using Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology, the LENS 3D Machine Tool Series is capable of producing metal parts at roughly one-third the price of powder bed based systems. The combination of CNC and LENS technology provides yet another innovative example of how the metal additive manufacturing industry is rapidly transforming.
Following suit with the vast array of advancements in metal AM, the 3D printing giant Stratasys shared more details about its Layered Powder Metallurgy (LPM) technology. Earlier this year, the manufacturer revealed that it was developing a metal technology that would lead to a faster and more cost-effective way to print metal parts for short-run applications.
At Formnext, Stratasys revealed the three-step process behind its LPM technology: dispensing and rolling, compaction, and printing. The newly developed process works by dispensing an even layer of metal powder, which is compacted into a dense thin layer. Next, a single pass jetting deposits a proprietary thermal ink onto the metal powder layer to define the part’s geometry. These steps are repeated until the part is built, followed by a cold isostatic pressing stage to increase part density and dewaxing to make the parts easily removable.
Stratasys even shared a video demonstration of the LPM technique:
Another intriguing process that was demonstrated at Formnext was the LaserProFusion technology developed by industry pioneer EOS. Unlike the typical SLS setup, this new technique utilizes up to one million lasers, activating only the diode lasers that match the 3D data of the part down to the pixel.
The LaserProFusion process aims to reduce exposure times no matter the number of parts or the complexity of the design. EOS claims that its technology will able to match the production capabilities of injection molding for a range of applications, while also eliminating the need for tooling.
Recognized for manufacturing industrial-grade 3D printers that utilize ultra-fast stereolithography technology, Nexa3D went to Formnext to showcase its latest proprietary process: Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) technology. This newly developed technique has been integrated into the large-format NXE400 3D printer, which is capable of printing parts at up to six times the speed and over two times the build volume compared to other resin-based systems.
Nexa3D had the NXE 400 and other models, along with automated post-processing units, on display in Frankfurt throughout the week. The company also seems to have licensed its groundbreaking technology to the Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer XYZprinting, whom they recently struck a partnership with. We saw this collaboration come to fruition at Formnext when XYZ unveiled a range of industrial printers that included the MfgPro1600 xpf, a high-resolution printer that uses Nexa3D’s trademark LSPc technology.
We also saw a vast array of developments in the field of industrial materials, including a slew of new partnerships and products.
Carbon, the Silicon Valley startup behind the groundbreaking Digital Light Synthesis technology, excitedly announced a steep price reduction for its most-widely used resins, which include epoxy, elastomeric polyurethane, and rigid polyurethane materials. Now, the EPX 82, EPU 41, and RPU 70 can be purchased in bulk volumes at just $50 per liter.
After announcing a global material alliance earlier this year at TCT Show, Ultimaker decided to share the latest developments of this industrial material consortium at Formnext. The Dutch 3D printer manufacturer announced the availability of the very first 3D printing material profiles from industrial material companies such as BASF, Clariant, DSM, and DuPont on Ultimaker Cura 3.6.
In addition to material advancements made by the regular players in the additive manufacturing industry, we also saw a number of big name companies announce industrial-grade materials of their own.
For starters, DuPont Transportation & Advanced Polymers introduced two new 3D printing filaments over the week. Looking to address the need for stronger and stiffer AM materials, the company used ultralow shrinkage technology to develop a glass-reinforced polyamide and a carbon fiber-reinforced polyamide, both of which are said to be comparable to injection molding grade parts..
Meanwhile, DSM also launched two products that will aim to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing into mainstream production. The new PerFORM Reflect is engineered for PIV wind tunnel testing and reduces the need for post-processing. The other material is called Arnitel ID2060 HT, specifically made for automotive manufacturers who want to 3D print structural parts that can withstand and perform under harsh conditions.
Lastly, BASF 3D Printing Solutions (B3DPS), the 3D printing subsidiary of BASF, announced new partnerships with several new companies, as well as a range of new photopolymer and laser sintering materials. The company is collaborating with Origin, Photocentric, and Xunshi Technology to develop a variety of professional-grade 3D printing materials for industrial use.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Formnext without an avalanche of new and exciting 3D printers. Here are a few of the most fascinating hardware releases.
BigRep, the global large-format 3D printer manufacturer known for its large-format FDM systems, unveiled two next-generation 3D printers at Formnext: the BigRep PRO and BigRep EDGE. The company’s latest range of FDM 3D printing systems are equipped with proprietary Metering Extruder Technology and an industrial-grade Bosch Rexroth motion control system, the BigRep PRO aims to provide a sizable industrial solution for rapid prototyping and production.
The Boston-based 3D printing company Rize 3D made its mark this week with the XRIZE, a full-color 3D printer that simultaneously extruders industrial-grade thermoplastics with CMYB jet inks to add pigment to the part. It utilizes the same patented Augmented Deposition technology featured in the flagship RIZE ONE 3D printer. The XRIZE also utilizes RELEASE INK, which is jetted in a way that makes separating support structures from 3D printed parts.
The Swiss manufacturer Sintratec released a new addition to its compact and affordable line of SLS 3D printers. Dubbed as the Sintratec S2, this new system is fully modular and includes automated processes that make it a true end-to-end solution. According to the manufacturer, the Sintratec S2 is engineered for functional prototypes and small-to-medium series production.
What makes the S2 a groundbreaking system is that it features an all-in-one integrated and semi-automated processes that include laser sintering, de-powdering, material preparation, and surface treatment. Not only will this grant users with high-quality laser sintered parts, but it will also make the entire process more economically sound and eliminate the time-consuming cleaning process.
Another new machine that caught our attention was the EnvisionTEC Perfactory P4K, the first DLP 3D printer equipped with a 4K projector. With an incredible 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, this system utilizes artificial intelligence in pixel modulation to deliver parts with high accuracy. The EnvisionTEC Perfactory P4K will come in three versions, all of which differ in terms of resolution and build volume.
Rize and voxeljet have announced interesting new additions to their product portfolios this week targeting, respectively, full-color functional 3D printing and serial additive manufacturing.
Boston-based Rize has introduced the new full-color-capable XRIZE desktop industrial 3D printing system, as well as two new materials and a cloud platform. XRIZE brings full CMYK color capabilities to the well-known Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) technology that incorporates an agent that makes post-processing a snap. New materials, Rizium Carbon and Rizium Endura, join Rizium One and Rizium Black and are available for use with both the new XRIZE and already on-the-market Rize One. Additionally, the new RIZE CONNECT platform allows for remote management and monitoring of Rize 3D printers. Rize is also offering a bundle special through December 14: pre-order an XRIZE system and get a Rize One free.
Germany-based voxeljet has launched a new product line and announced significant improvements in performance from earlier-generation systems. The new VX1000-S targets serial additive manufacturing, such as for sand cores in aluminum casting applications like the production of water jacket cores. To date, voxeljet has been focusing on organic printing processes; the new line features inorganic binding (IOB) material, which the company notes as improving throughput and ensuring environmental compatibility. Layer time on the system has been reduced to 12 seconds, as the S-line employ printheads with a larger width. Pre-orders are available now, with delivery expected mid-2019; on-demand production orders will be available starting in March. R&D continues across the board, though, and voxeljet has cut layer time on the existing VX200-HSS platform to 20 seconds, marking a 100% reduction.
France-based ESI is launching ESI Additive Manufacturing at formnext. The new simulation offering focuses on metal 3D printing technologies that is designed to “overcome today’s industrial challenges.” Answering questions ranging from whether additive manufacturing is the right approach for production of a given part to optimal material density and process throughput, ESI Additive Manufacturing is designed to “achieve first-time-right prints.”
Origin, based in San Francisco, has come out from stealth mode this week with a $10 million Series A funding round and with BASF as a strategic partner. The company’s claim is a familiar one: “to reshape the additive manufacturing space.” Focusing on an open platform — the Open Additive Production platform — Origin seeks to upend the existing landscape “dominated by closed and inflexible systems with material only available from the printer manufacturer.” Working with materials giant BASF has offered a boost to this vision, as the company’s introductory announcement notes a close relationship that is “already bearing results.” Focus is on volume production, and while the press release is filled with a lot of buzzy buzzwords, the partnership sounds like one to watch.
Evolve Additive Manufacturing and Kodak; PostProcess Technologies and Rösler: it’s all about partnerships for the next steps forward in additive manufacturing.
Eastman Kodak’s more than four decades of experience with electrophotographic technology is being put to use as Stratasys spinoff Evolve Additive Solutions leverages this tech for its Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process (STEP). The production-based additive manufacturing technology relies on IP licensed from Kodak and draws from the KODAK NEXPRESS Platform. Partnerships and close relationships with investors and technology partners underlie a substantial amount of the foundation of Evolve’s strategic approach to the market. Commercial availability is targeted for 2020.
Buffalo, New York-based PostProcess Technologies has European expansion in mind with a new partnership. Working with Rösler Oberflächentechnik, PostProcess is set to “bring automated post-print solutions to Europe.” Automating support removal and surface finishing, PostProcess’ solutions offer automation to an often labor-intensive stage of additive manufacturing. The choice of partnering with Rösler makes sense as the company offers significant experience in finishing operations and is active throughout Europe.
Wiivv, well known for creating custom insoles and sandals strong enough to run a marathon in, has appointed a new Vice President of Footwear and 3D Products. Brett Ritter steps into the new executive role, ready to oversee R&D and manufacturing operations in San Diego. He comes in at an interesting time, as the company has also announced a collaboration with NAMIC. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) brings Wiivv’s offerings to Singapore, and is set to see collaboration focused on next-generation customized biometric insoles.
“Wiivv exemplifies how new businesses should aspire to be, riding on market trends like hypermobility, mass customization and wellness needs, building personalized and highly desirable solutions enabled by technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 3D printing. We are excited and honoured to be partnering with Wiivv to support their growth plans in Singapore,” said NAMIC Managing Director Dr. Ho Chaw Sing.
Carbon, ExOne, and Arkema join in the executive announcements as corporate news picks up this week.
California-based Carbon has announced updates to its Board of Directors and executive team. Ellen J Kullman, former Chair and CEO of DuPont, has been a member of Carbon’s Board since 2016. She has now been announced as the Lead Independent Director of the Board. Joining her on the Board is new director Deborah (Debbie) M. Messemer, who will chair the new Audit Committee. Because three appointments are better than two, Carbon has also announced a new CFO, as Elisa de Martel has been promoted from VP of Finance, a position she has held since February of this year.
Arkema has also released Q3 financials. Highlights include:
A fit for every face: that’s what King Children promises with its new 3D printed eyewear.
The new brand, with $2M funding behind it, is launching glasses made for all: “custom frames to embrace the diversity of every face.” Leaning on Apple’s 3D scanning technologies, like Depth Control, users can scan their faces to ensure the frames will fit their unique visage. Virtually trying on the specs ensures the right look, while personalization options promise the right fit including considerations for size of frame, lens height, lens width, nose bridge, frame wrap, nose pad position, temple length, and pantoscopic tilt. Videos of the process show the scanning itself is easy and guided, and the trying-on process looks to make those Snapchat filter dreams a reality. No details are given regarding the precise 3D printing technology used, though many companies have dived into the eyewear market as a great fit for additive manufacturing.
M. Holland and PostProcess Technologies are seeing expansions in their operations through, respectively, a portfolio enhancement and new operations.
A new distribution agreement with 3DXTECH is bringing a broader 3D printing portfolio to M. Holland. More than two dozen new materials will be added to the 3D printing product portfolio, and access to “an expanded team of commercial and technical support resources” is set to enhance customers’ user experience. Engineering-grade material additions include carbon fiber, electrostatic discharge-safe, and fire-retardant options. M. Holland is among traditional thermoplastics companies expanding operations in 3D printing in response to customer demand; this spring, the company’s distribution agreement for Owens Corning’s XSTRAND line marked its first such agreement. The expanding portfolio is also supported by R&D focus in 3D printing including a dedicated 3D Printing Lab.
With an expansion more focused on footprint, PostProcess Technologies is opening an office, and launching its product line, in Europe. Focused on automated, intelligent post-processing offerings for 3D printing, the company is addressing a major pain point in the market — and expanding beyond its initial North American operations base is enabling a wider reach to global customers. The office, near Nice, France, is set to provide access to the company’s software, hardware, and chemistry solutions for support removal and surface finish.
Popular model repository Thingiverse is marking a milestone with a decade of operations.
The 10th anniversary of the site is a notable mile market, as the 3D printing industry itself is just over three decades old; offering viable files to a growing — 2.3 million users and counting — community for so long is a claim few can rival. The MakerBot-owned community has seen more than 340 million downloads of almost three million 3D printable designs. Happy birthday to the mainstay site, and many happy returns (and downloads)!
More insights in financials emerge as Materialise, Stratasys, and 3D Systems have announced results for Q3 2018. Highlights as reported from each include:
“Following a busy summer, during which we entered into an alliance with BASF and completed both a public offering and a private placement of our equity, raising a total of US $70 million in cash gross proceeds, we are pleased to post yet another set of good results for the third quarter. These results reflect particularly strong performances from our Materialise Medical and Materialise Software segments, and a continuing solid contribution from our ACTech business. We continue to move forward with many innovations to advance the digital manufacturing process and look forward to participating in the Formnext conference in mid-November, where we intend to unveil several innovative products,” said Executive Chairman Peter Leys.
Read the whole report here.
“We are pleased with our results this quarter, reflecting continued strength in our high-end systems orders, utilization rates and our parts services business. The level of engagement we are experiencing with customers in our key verticals is encouraging, as we highlighted at the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show. And we are excited about the innovation we plan to bring to market to drive incremental, long-term opportunities, as we continue to invest in new products and materials across our portfolio of FDM and PolyJet technologies, our new metal additive manufacturing platform, and advanced composite materials,” said Interim CEO Elchanan (Elan) Jaglom.
More information here.
“We are pleased with our continued strong growth in printer units and printer revenue, in both metals and plastics, as we continue to have balanced execution across all regions. At the same time, we are starting to see cost structure improvements as a result of actions we have taken over the last year,” said CEO Vyomesh Joshi (VJ).
Read the whole report here.
As additive manufacturing continues to mature, certifications become of increasing importance.
This week, UL announced UL 3400 certification for Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California Additive Design and Manufacturing Center. UL 3400, “a set of safety guidelines that address the various hazards associated with additive manufacturing facilities,” was first published last year; Lockheed Martin is the first to be certified to this level. Formally titled the Outline of Investigation for Additive Manufacturing Facility Safety Management, UL 3400 is regarded as a trailblazer as the first additive manufacturing-specific guideline for facility safety. It accounts for material, equipment, and overall facility safety. The 6,775-square-foot Sunnyvale 3D printing research center is focused on Lockheed’s military, commercial, and civil space portfolio: “its charter is to bridge the gap between materials research and the manufacturing floor so engineers can design and produce superior satellite parts faster and at lower cost.”
Carpenter has acquired LPW and announced its latest financials, while Protolabs reports record revenues for the quarter.
Announced mid-week, Carpenter Technology’s acquisition of LPW Technology represents an expansion of the new parent’s positioning in the 3D printing industry. Carpenter’s history in premium specialty alloys is being used as a strong foundation for its increasing participation in additive manufacturing, which has also included investment in Puris and CalRAM, as well as establishment in Alabama of an Emerging Technology Center. The $81M acquisition of UK-based LPW represents a strong step forward in additive manufacturing-specific metal powders. Carpenter President and CEO Tony R. Thene noted that the company has taken an “aggressive development” when it comes to additive manufacturing, demonstrating “our commitment to build on our industry-leading position in this space.”
Carpenter also announced its Q1 FY2019 results. Thene said of the quarter’s performance:
“Looking ahead, we are focused on executing our commercial and manufacturing strategies while also strategically investing in targeted growth areas that will enhance our long-term growth profile. This includes our announced acquisition of LPW Technology Ltd., a leader in advanced metal powders and powder lifecycle management solutions for additive manufacturing, and the investment in our high-value soft magnetics portfolio. These priorities are consistent with our strategic mandate to be a complete solutions provider for our customers and best position Carpenter to deliver increasing long-term value to shareholders.”
|($ in millions)||Q1||Q1||Q4|
|Net Sales Excluding Surcharge (a)||$||456.3||$||409.8||$||494.5|
|Cash Provided from (Used for) Operating Activities||$||9.4||$||(7.4||)||$||118.5|
|Free Cash Flow (a)||$||(41.7||)||$||(44.9||)||$||55.9|
(a) Non-GAAP financial measures explained in the attached tables
Protolabs has announced Q3 2018 financial results with record revenue and net income. With the former up 31% over the same quarter in 2017 and the latter rising 58% over the same, President and CEO Vicki Holt notes “strong performance across all of our geographies and in each of our services.” 3D printing revenues for Q3 2018 ($13.8 million) represents an increase of 24.7% over that reported for Q3 2017 ($11.1 million).
Raymond C. Rumpf, PhD, has called his team’s latest breakthrough at the EM Lab at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) “a very significant step and potentially disruptive achievement” leading to “sort of the holy grail for 3D printed circuits.”
That circuitry holy grail is a 3D/volumetric circuit. Three years in developing the right, all-new, CAD tools to create the volumetric circuits brought the team together, as Rumpf worked with Gilbert Carranza, Ubaldo Robles, and Cesar Valle to customize the right tools for the ambitious job. Taking the CAD to the 3D printer proved a tricky point, but ultimately an interface was completed to make the design data readable and voilà: “the world’s first 3D/volumetric circuit using their automated process.” With the new, high-tech process, “You could put circuits in munitions, in eyeglasses, in shoes, and even in coffee mugs,” said Rumpf, as “It’s about making electronics ubiquitous in many different things.”
Just in time for Halloween, this chocolate drone is ready to deliver.
It has nothing to do with Halloween, really, but this tasty achievement is flying high as three students from Duke University turned their chocolate high-tech. Anuj Thakkar, Carlo Lindner, and Ben Succop, all juniors at Duke, devoted some time outside the classroom to create the drone. Passing on cheese (“too ugly and oily”), Jell-O (“too heavy”), and bread (“too difficult to mold”), chocolate became their Goldilocks material. A 3D printed positive mold enabled them to create just the right shape while easily removing the mold to create a chocolate shell that replaced the plastic of a modified drone. Differences in chocolate textures and qualities have made iterating the drone interesting in terms of flavor and structural integrity. Inspired by fiber composites, sweet vermicelli was incorporated into the chocolate to help it support drone weight. The project, while done for fun and hardly the hardest-hitting science out there, brought the team to think out of the box in the creation of about 20-30 drones, and may lead to a new chocolate 3D printer (or that cheese drone).
License: The text of "3D Printing Industry Weekly – Nov 16, 2018 (Formnext Edition)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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