Everything That Was Announced at formnext
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on November 18, 2016 |
A roundup of all of the big 3D printing news that occurred at the formnext trade show.

formnext by TCT has quickly become one of the world’s largest events for additive manufacturing (AM), with this year’s trade show demonstrating that it may only get bigger. Numerous big announcements were made at the event that showcase where the 3D printing industry is headed and who the leaders may be. Here is a breakdown of some of the biggest stories from that event.

Concept Laser’s AM Factory of Tomorrow

Last year, Concept Laser announced the development of a highly automated 3D printing concept dubbed the AM Factory of Tomorrow. Coming off of the high of being acquired by GE Aviation, Concept Laser unveiled its new M LINE FACTORY, the first 3D printer setup to execute that concept. The system features a separate powder handling unit and production unit that makes it possible to 3D print, load powder and remove prints in parallel, rather than sequentially. As a result, the company believes it will be possible to set up multiple machines in such a way as to perform mass manufacturing.

A configuration of the M LINE FACTORY in which two production units flank a powder handling unit. (Image courtesy of Concept Laser.)
A configuration of the M LINE FACTORY in which two production units flank a powder handling unit. (Image courtesy of Concept Laser.)

3ntr Unveils PEEK Substitute

Italian manufacturer of industrial 3D printers 3ntr unveiled a new material meant to compete with the highly sought-after engineering plastic polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Unlike PEEK, 3ntr’s nPower filament is engineered to be easy to print and affordable, while still maintaining the chemical, heat and water resistance of PEEK. nPower can withstand up to 200 °C of heat.

Roland’s Ceramic 3D Printer

Machine tool manufacturer Roland has been in the 3D printing industry for about two years now, releasing a digital light processing 3D printer. At formnext, the company showed off a new binder jetting machine specifically for ceramics. Though the machine isn’t quite ready to hit the market and the hardware is likely to change before it does, it could be used for high-performance ceramic materials with applications in the automotive, electronics and aerospace industries.

Autodesk’s Multihead 3D Printing

As Autodesk has updated the popular 3D printing software Netfabb for 2017, the company included an interesting update that came from its work with Project Escher, a hybrid manufacturing system currently under experimentation at Autodesk. In addition to cloud-based simulation and hybrid subtractive and additive workflows, Netfabb 2017 includes control technology for powering machines with different extrusion-based printheads for parallel printing of a single part. Autodesk will release the hardware and software related to Escher’s multi-toolhead approach as open source so that manufacturers can create multi-head printers that can print objects more quickly through parallel extrusion.

Autodesk’s Project Escher performing a large-scale print with multiple printheads. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
Autodesk’s Project Escher performing a large-scale print with multiple printheads. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

Roboze Releases One +400 Engineering 3D Printer

Roboze is another Italian 3D printer manufacturer that aims to tackle the engineering materials market. The company’s latest printer demonstrates just how capable Roboze can be. The One + 400 3D printer is capable of 3D printing medical-grade PEEK, polyetherimide and composite materials.


XJet Displays Ceramic 3D-Printed Parts

As previously reported on ENGINEERING.com, Israel’s XJet has demonstrated new ceramics 3D printing capabilities with the company’s NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) process. At formnext, XJet showcased the ability of its NPJ system to 3D print both metal and ceramic parts with unprecedented detail.

Dense ceramic parts 3D printed by the XJet platform. (Image courtesy of the 3D Printing Business Directory.)
Dense ceramic parts 3D printed by the XJet platform. (Image courtesy of the 3D Printing Business Directory.)

Michelin’s First Metal 3D Printer

Michelin previously announced a partnership with industrial engineering group Fives to develop metal 3D printing solutions together. The results thus far were displayed for the first time at formnext. The joint project, dubbed AddUp Solutions, involves consulting, services and 3D printer manufacturing. The first printer so far is the FormUp 350, an open and modular metal 3D printer. The system employs what AddUp calls the “Powder, Machine, Part, Method” approach, wherein repeatability and quality are strictly controlled.

The new FormUp 350 3D printer from AddUp. (Image courtesy of AddUp.)
The new FormUp 350 3D printer from AddUp. (Image courtesy of AddUp.)

Arcam Gets Bought by GE

After a complex series of negotiations, GE finally announced that it would purchase a majority stake in Arcam, inventor of electron beam melting technology for metal 3D printing. With 73.57 percent of the total outstanding shares in the company, GE officially owns the majority of Arcam, complementing GE’s acquisition of Concept Laser. Arcam showcased its capabilities at formnext by demonstrating the ability to 3D print cobalt-chromium parts with its Q 10plus 3D printer.

HP Makes European Debut

After officially unveiling its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology at RAPID 2016 this year, HP displayed its HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printer for the first time in Europe. HP development partners Jabil, Materialise and Shapeways will all receive the first installations of the system in the very near future. HP will be working with three German resellers to bring the technology to the German market: 3D Experts, Kaut Bullinger and Solidpro.

Sisma Unveils New Metal 3D Printer

Italy’s Sisma previously partnered with German laser manufacturer Trumpf to develop a range of metal 3D printers. At formnext, Sisma unveiled its largest system yet, the mysint300, which features a build volume of 300 x 400 mm and a 500W laser.

The new mysint300 from Sisma. (Image courtesy of Sisma.)
The new mysint300 from Sisma. (Image courtesy of Sisma.)

BigRep Releases Two Big 3D Printers

Berlin-based BigRep previously astounded the world with a massive extrusion 3D printer. Due to the lack of an enclosed print chamber, it was difficult to determine how capable the machine could be when 3D printing large objects. The company has now released the enclosed BigRep Studio 3D printer, significantly smaller than its flagship Big Rep ONE at 1,022 x 1,660 x 1,500 mm. BigRep also announced a partnership with German industrial-grade 3D printer manufacturer Kühling&Kühling to create the BigRep Tech, a delta-style 3D printer with a build volume of 400 x 600 mm. Perhaps more exciting was the announcement that BigRep and Dutch research institute TNO would be collaborating on an automated 3D printing production system capable of fabricating multiple objects once.

The enclosed BigRep Studio from BigRep. (Image courtesy of BigRep.)
The enclosed BigRep Studio from BigRep. (Image courtesy of BigRep.)

Additive Industries’ MetalFAB1 Comes Out of Hiding

Despite the fact that beta machines have already shipped to customers, at most events, the MetalFAB1 3D printer from Additive Industries is on display only in the form of a scale model and a virtual-reality experience. At formnext, however, the company brought the printer itself. The MetalFAB1 is designed for production, offering many autonomous features and configurations for increased efficiency.

EnvisionTEC Debuts New 3SP 3D Printer

In a recent interview with ENGINEERING.com, EnvisionTEC CEO Al Siblani hinted that a new 3SP 3D printer was going to be revealed soon. One week later, his company unveiled the Vector Hi-Res 3SP 3D printer at formnext. At 60 µm on the X and Y axes, the system has almost double the resolution of the original Vector 3SP and a build volume of 300 x 175 x 200 mm.

Newcomer OR Laser Announces First Metal 3D Printer

While OR Laser has been developing lasers and manufacturing equipment for nearly 20 years, the company only began researching metal 3D printing about three years ago. At formnext, OR Laser showcased the fruits of its labor, the ORLAS Creator, a metal 3D printer targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses. Set for production in 2017, the machine features a specialty blade design for smooth operation and increased build speeds up to 30 percent faster than comparable metal 3D printers.  

The ORLAS Creator from OR Laser. (Image courtesy of OR Laser.)
The ORLAS Creator from OR Laser. (Image courtesy of OR Laser.)

Prodways Releases Larger SLS 3D Printer

After partnering with Farsoon to distribute a series of selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers, Prodways has unveiled the ProMaker P4500 series of SLS machines. With an eight-zone heater system and temperature control, the ProMaker P4500 is available in four configurations: the standard 30W laser ProMaker P4500 SD, the 60W ProMaker P4500 HS, the 100W ProMaker P4500 X and the 100W ProMaker P4500 HT for high-temperature materials, such as the new Ultrasint PA6 X028 nylon powder from BASF. All of these systems will soon be available with larger build chambers as well.

Stratasys’ New Printer and Partnership

After unveiling the 3D Robotic Composite Demonstrator developed with Siemens earlier this year, Stratasys christened its relationship with Siemens at formnext, where the two announced that they would be working together on this unique eight-axis composite 3D printing system and other software and hardware solutions.

The new web-connected Fortus 900mc from Stratasys. (Image courtesy of Stratasys.)
The new web-connected Fortus 900mc from Stratasys. (Image courtesy of Stratasys.)

Stratasys also showed off the new Fortus 900mc. An upgraded version of its previous large-format system, the new Fortus 900mc has an integrated internal camera for remote monitoring and is Web enabled to accompany the company’s new GrabCAD print software, a cloud-based program for efficient print management.

Recommended For You