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What Is Not Adding Up?

by Pete Basiliere  |  November 15, 2016  |  Submit a Comment

Formnext, the European trade fair for the 3DP industry, bustled with attendees today, giving pause to the market’s doomsayers.

As you may recall, Gartner’s forecast of the enterprise 3D printer (3DP) market remains strong with a 57.4% CAGR for shipments through 2020. And, yes, publicly-held 3DP manufacturers have faced headwinds of late. Yet the number of manufacturers is increasing and the shipments by most of them are increasing.

AddUp was introduced to the 3DP market today. The company with a powder bed fusion, metal 3D printer has its roots in Michelin’s — yes, the tire company Michelin’s — 16 years of additive manufacturing. With 32 devices (including 6 that are linked in a fully automated workflow), Michelin produces tens of thousands of 3D printed metal parts per year. Many of the parts are used to create the tread when Michelin molds its tires.

AddUp is a collaboration of Michelin and Fives company, a global business services company. Drawing on its experience with serial production of 3D printed metal parts, the AddUp offering includes not only the “FormUp 350” metal laser sintering 3D printer but also AddUp Manager software package for, among other features, job preparation and layering and melting strategies.

Drawing on Michelin’s insistence on best safety practices, AddUp also offers a unique, completely enclosed 3D print operations room, called the “AddUp Care Flex System,” designed to safely handle metal powders. The “room” basically takes up the space of a shipping container, minimizing the expense of creating a facility for organizations that buy their 3D printer. Two can be laid out side by side, as in this illustration:

AddUp Flex Care Systems

addup-flex-care-system

Source: AddUp

At the other end of the material spectrum, Mass Portal demonstrated it “Dynasty” additive manufacturing system. While others have assembled 6 or more desktop material extrusion printers into a rack before, the Dynasty incorporates automated material handling into the system.

Dynasty was demonstrated in pre-release, although the company expects the system will hit the market in the second half of 2017. I’m told it could list for 70,000 Euros. Mass Portal has been selling 3D printers for about two years. The market for this self-contained system is rapid prototyping environments, high volume and supply chain contract manufacturers, and universities.

Potentially solving a major market growth inhibitor that is looming on the horizon — the lack of true, end-to-end workflow software that encompasses pre-press, printing and post-press operations — RP Platform offered software that promises instant quotation management, payments, order and production management and file analysis, healing and print preparation.

Formnext 2016 will be known for the first use of “blockchain” and “3D printing” in the same sentence.

3dTrust is a startup hosted by Airbus’ BizHub initiative. The company has come up with a potentially neat solution to the need for IP (intellectual property) protection when transmitting 3D print files to suppliers. Its patented technology “combines secured data streaming with a distributed ledger for transactions accountability in the blockchain.” In other words, IP protection, traceability of digital files and quality assurance of the 3D printed parts that you ordered.

Returning to new hardware, Sisma demonstrated the MyRev stereolithography printer with three revolving platforms that is best described in a photo:

MyRev SLA Printer

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Source: Pete Basiliere

The platforms within this 70,000 Euro printer rotate clockwise after each build is completed. The build plate rotates from 6:00 on the clock face to 8:00, where it pauses for 5 minutes for the excess polymer to drain off. The platforms continue rotating until the next one is at 6:00, when the new print begins. Sisma is targeting the jewelry and dental industries with MyRev.

Sisma is but one of many SLA printer entrants who jumped into the market when the original stereolithography patents expired.

Lastly, on a somewhat personal note given my many years in the 2D and 3D printing industries, the renown 2D press manufacturer Heidelberg Druckmaschinen has entered the 3D printer industry, albeit indirectly. The company is building 3D printers for Apium (formerly called Indmatec), the young firm that sells material extrusion printers that work with notoriously difficult PEEK, POM-C, PVDF and PEI-ULTEM 1000 engineering plastics. Apium’s product offering, with two models at 28,000 Euro and 38,000 Euro price points, is impressive on its own. The fact Heidelberg is manufacturing the printers means they should be robust, precision devices.

Long-time 3D printer technology leaders facing headwinds

+ a 2D paper manufacturer (and a tire maker) entering the 3D printer market

+ Blockchain providing IP protection

= Signs of 3DP market growth

Maybe things are adding up…

Category: 3d-printing  trends-predictions  

Tags: 3-d-print  3d-print  3d-print-service-bureaus  3d-printer  3d-systems  additive-manufacturing  addup  airbus  apium  bizhub  blockchain  cad  computer-aided-design  digital-press  fives  formnext  heidelberg  heidelberg-druckmaschinen  intellectual-property  mass-portal  michelin  offset-printing  rp-platform  sisma  stereolithography  

Pete Basiliere
Research Vice President
10 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Mr. Basiliere provides research-based insights on 3D printing, digital printing systems and software applications, customer communications management (CCM), strategic document outsourcing (SDO) and automated document factory (ADF) best practices, go-to-market strategies, and technology trends. Read Full Bio




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