French engineering firm Groupe Gorge is now entering the 3D printing industry. The publicly traded company acquired private 3D printer OEM Prodways in May, and will be launching their new machines at next week's EuroMold 2013 in Frankfurt. 

Prodways was founded by a chief scientist from 3D Systems, Andre-Luc Allanic, and the company sold 17 of their industrial 3d printers in 3 years, mostly to German customers.  Prodways 3D printers combine UVA LED and moving DLP which, according to the company, provides distinct competitive advantages.

Andre-Luc-Allanic on the new technology utilized by Prodways 3D printers:

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I contacted Raphael Gorge, CEO of Gorge Group with some investment-related questions.

Engineering.com: Why is Groupe Gorge expanding into the 3D printing industry?

Raphael Gorge: Groupe Gorgé has always been positioned in leading technologies: (Drones, autonomous vehicles, simulation, industrial robotics). We believe that 3D Printing will have a huge impact on the industry during the next 20

years. When I met André Luc Allanic, I grasped the potential of this technology, based on a LED and a moving DLP. The company was small but the essential was there. Group Gorgé immediately provided financial and also human resources (technical, R&D, commercial network) in order to answer, almost immediately, the entire market needs and to reveal this technology to the world.


Engineering.com:  What industries do your machines currently target, and what industries might you expand into in the future?

Raphael Gorge: Due to our high accurate, high resolution and high throughput process, the medical market and more especially the dental industry came naturally to us. We are actually developing a large spectrum of materials.  We are also in discussion with potential chemical partners. Thru these solutions we will bring advanced materials with high mechanical properties simulating engineering plastic properties such as ABS for example. Then functional parts will be produced from our systems and will answer the needs of automotive, white goods, electronics, consumer goods… We also have developed a unique process working with composite materials able to produce ceramic parts as Zirconia, Alumide, hydoxyapathite which open a brand new world of application in the medical, jewelry, luxury industry.


Engineering.com: Do you have a target goal in terms of machine sales and new revenue for 2014 from 3D printing?

Raphael Gorge: We will probably announce our mid-term target in January.


Engineering.com: What are the competitive advantages of Prodways machines?

Raphael Gorge: Two major competitive advantages are brought to industrial users: unparalleled perfection of the parts produced and distinctly improved profitability. Prodways technology provides a world record in resolution and precision even on large parts, and permits the use and development of premium material.

  • Most detailed parts on the market at high throughput : hundreds of tiny parts in just a few hours at a resolution of less than 35-µm
  • Unequalled resolution, more than half a billion pixels per layer
  • High precision in the 3 dimensions (horizontal AND vertical), essential in many applications such as dental
  • Very large sized parts while retaining the same precision required for intricate and exacting parts such as those used in biomedical
  • The technology permits the use and development of premium innovative composite and hybrid materials with impressive mechanical, physical, esthetic properties, as well as biocompatible materials for a wide variety of medical applications
  • Thanks to Prodways technology, profitability is significantly improved due to its incredible speed and considerable reductions in production costs
  • Up to 10 times faster than market standards
  • Technology allowing for unequalled production volumes
  • Superior surface quality requiring minimum finishing
  • Minimum operating costs due to lack of expensive wear and tear on parts
  • Replacement of LED light source cheaper than laser


Engineering.com:  A recent article states that your machines are capable of printing 100 dental models in 5 hours.  Are these complete, full-scale models?

Raphael Gorge: This was a rough estimation. In a simulation for clear aligners application, we reached 220 full-scale models in 8h30. This figure could be improved with more reactive materials our R&D Team could develop, and also process optimisation. Regarding full-scale dental pattern to replace gypsum pattern, we reach 144 models in less than 14 hours, but the design is different from one company to the other so the time can be different but this gives a rough idea of the build time. It is also important to mention that this is produced with very high resolution (more than 500 million pixels per layer) and high accuracy without compromising build time.


Engineering.com:  Do you have plans to expand into the North American market in the future

Raphael Gorge: We have already sold machines in North America. This market is highly prioritaire. We are actually looking for new commercial partners to represent Prodways in this region.


Engineering.com:  Is there a possibility that Groupe Gorge will list the stock for trading on a U.S. exchange?

Raphael Gorge:  The potential of 3D printing is almost unknown on the European stock market. If this was to last for long, we could envisage any financial strategy that enables us to reach the huge financial leverage our competitors have.

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Groupe Gorge trades on the NYSE Euronext under the symbol GOE from 3:00AM-11:30AM EST.

Additional information for investors (key financials, management, dividend history, share structure, etc.) can be accessed via this link.

Disclosure: I own shares of Groupe Gorge

Gary Anderson

 

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