Post-Game: 3D Printing News from Formnext 2019
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on November 25, 2019 |

Now that Formnext 2019 is over, we can look back in retrospect at some of the more important announcements made at the event. Some were quite substantial. While others may not seem that significant on the surface, they do have meaning for the larger 3D-printing industry. Let’s start with what may be the biggest bit of news.

BASF Acquires Sculpteo

BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, has been building up its 3D-printing portfolio for some time. After establishing a specific group company, BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, in 2017, the German giant went from simple materials development to making acquisitions, such as Innofil3D, Advanc3D Materials and Setup Performance. It also expanded its partnership with Materialise, investing $25 million in the Belgian service bureau and software developer.

Now, BASF has bought one of the three leading 3D printing-dedicated service bureaus, outside of Materialise and Shapeways. Based in San Francisco and Paris, Sculpteo has been in business for roughly a decade, providing customers with a range of 3D-printing technologies and developing online software for improving the customer experience.

AMT

Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) launched its Digital Manufacturing System, a customizable, automated post-processing system meant to cover unpacking an additive manufacturing (AM) system, depowdering, smoothing and/or coloring, and inspection.

GE Additive

The new M2 system from Concept Laser. (Image courtesy of GE Additive.)
The new M2 system from Concept Laser. (Image courtesy of GE Additive.)

GE Additive has continued to beef up its AM acquisitions, announcing product releases from Arcam and Concept Laser:

  • Arcam EBM Spectra L system: An improvement over existing Spectra systems featuring a 4.5kW laser, double the build volume of the Spectra H atØ350x430mm, print speeds 20 percent higher than the Q20plus, 10 percent reduced part cost, built-in IoT interface and other enhancements. 
  • Arcam PRS 30: An automated powder recovery system compatible with the Spectra L that includes automated blasting, self-diagnostics and automated blast chamber cleaning.
  • EBM Build Performance Analyzer: A software suite for machine health analytics that collects and analyzes machine sensors using intelligent algorithms to provide corrections for 32 root cause problems.
  • Concept Laser M2 Series 5 system: An upgrade to the M2 with double the build speed, greater build space due to increased surface area and z-axis travel, 20 percent better resolution, as well as improved uptime, predictability, reliability, process validation and quality control. These result from such updates as a new gas flow system, optical cooling.

Materials

Every trade show is replete with tons of new materials from nearly every company, including both plastics and metals. Here, we’ll break down new products from a large selection of those firms:

  • EnvisionTEC and Sartomer (owned by Arkema):E-Aquasol is a water-soluble resin for use with EnvisionTEC’s cDLM 3D printer, meant for high-resolution molds.
  • Royal DSM, Chromatic 3D Materials and German RepRap: Together, the three partners will 3D print parts for the automotive, rail and footwear fields using Chromatic’s line of FlexTune polyurethane materials.
  • 3D Systems:VisiJet M2S-HT90 is an engineering-grade plastic for use with the ProJet MJP2500 3D printer with a high heat deflection temperature and biocompatible under USP Class VI standards. It is being used by Antleron, for instance, to develop bioreactors. NextDent Denture 3D+ has received FDA 510(k) clearance for use to create biocompatible dentures. A range of new materials were also announced for use with 3D Systems continuous DLP 3D printer, the Figure 4, including high temperature, rubber-like and medical-use resins.
  • GE Additive: Test materials (“D-materials”) for developing printable pure copper and highly alloyed tool steels.
  • 6K: The company worked with an advanced manufacturing firm called Castheon to 3D print “the first” High Entropy Alloy (equal parts or a large distribution of five or more elements)from spherical powders developed by 6K. Dubbed HEA1000, the material is an iron-based alloy with “near identical” proportions of chromium, copper, cobalt and nickel, unprecedented on a laser-based 3D printer. The material could be used for printing high-performance parts for aerospace, medical and other applications. Additionally, 6K showcased Onyx In718, a form of Nickel 718 alloy made using the company’s microwave plasma technology, meant to result in high sphericity, zero porosity and good flowability.
The first 3D-printed HEA part. (Image courtesy of 6K.)
The first 3D-printed HEA part. (Image courtesy of 6K.)

Desktop Metal

After announcing Fiber, its continuous fiber reinforcement 3D printer, Desktop Metal revealed a metal binder jetting 3D printer for machine shops called the Shop System. To be made available in Fall 2020, the printer will be available in two varieties: the $150,0004L, with a build volume of 350 x 220 x 50mm, and the $225,00016L,with a build volume of 350 x 220 x 200mm.

Kumovis

A German startup, Kumovis, showcased the KUMOVIS R1 3D printer, designed specifically for clean room integration and the production of medical devices. The printer is capable of 3D printing with polyetherketone, a strong temperature- and chemical-resistant plastic used in the medical and aerospace sectors.

EOS

EOS unveiled what it calls Fine Detail Resolution (FDR) technology for 3D printing polymers using a CO laser. Designed for “extremely delicate yet robust” parts with wall thicknesses as thin as 0.22mm, FDR is meant to combine the resolution of SLA with the durability of SLS. 3D printing. This is made possible through the use of a 50-watt CO laser with a focus diameter half the size of traditional SLS lasers. Applications include filters, fluid channels, plugs and electronics, among other parts. The laser will be made available as an option on the EOS P 500 system.

BigRep

A rendering of the LOCI car. (Image courtesy of BigRep.)
A rendering of the LOCI car. (Image courtesy of BigRep.)

German large-scale 3D-printer manufacturer BigRep displayed an autonomous electric car dubbed LOCI to the event as a means of demonstrating its Part DNA technology for embedding NFC chips into 3D-printed parts. The chips are meant to make items scannable by mobile device for quick identification. The car (measuring 85 x 146 x 285cm) was made up of 14 parts, the largest of which was 100 x 60 x 70cm, all with embedded NFC chips making it feasible to customize, print and assemble on demand. 

Siemens

After a pilot program, Siemens officially launched its Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network meant to support distributed manufacturing by connecting customers in need of parts with a supplier network. A part of Siemens’ Software-as-a-Service portfolio, the AM Network includes such users as the world’s largest sporting goods retailer, Decathlon, as well as Siemens Gas & Power. HP will also integrate its own Digital Manufacturing Network into that of Siemens.

Siemens showcased an entire end-to-end AM digital workflow at the event, including digital inventory, part and cost analysis, RFQ processing, production tracking, scheduling, and the supplier network.

MSC

MSC Apex Generative Design creates print-ready geometries using Simufact’s metal and Digimat’s polymer build process simulation. (Image courtesy of MSC.)
MSC Apex Generative Design creates print-ready geometries using Simufact’s metal and Digimat’s polymer build process simulation. (Image courtesy of MSC.)

CAE company MSC Software Corporation unveiled its new design optimization software, MSC Apex Generative Design. The tool is meant to offer significant automation for topology optimization, with MSC claiming an 80 percent improvement in productivity compared to other software due to fast processing times. Once users enter boundaries and design objectives, the software generates lightweight, 3D-printable models.

Oerlikon

Swiss tech group Oerlikon made a number of announcements at the event, including a partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to 3D print nickel alloy 718 parts for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket before its 2021 launch. Additionally, Oerlikon will be creating an open AM cluster focused on AM research, along with GE Additive, engineering company Linde and the Technical University of Munich. Finally, Siemens will be providing the Swiss group with digital enterprise solutions meant to speed up the industrialization of AM with the long-term goal of creating a digital factory at Oerlikon.

Stratasys

Stratasys announced its Rail Industry Solution, which combines Stratasys’ Fortus 3D printers with ULTEM 9085 and Antero 800NA materials to 3D print spare parts for trains while meeting the industry’s smoke, fire and toxicity standards. The company also introduced new software for 3D printing shops dubbed GrabCAD Shop, meant to streamline work order management.

Carbon

Carbon founder Joseph DeSimone shakes hands with the firm’s new CEO, Ellen Kullman. (Image courtesy of Carbon.)
Carbon founder Joseph DeSimone shakes hands with the firm’s new CEO, Ellen Kullman. (Image courtesy of Carbon.)

Carbon has appointed a new president and CEO, Ellen J. Kullman, former chairman and CEO of DuPont. Founder and former CEO Joseph DeSimone will now move to executive chairman of the board, where he will focus on evangelizing the company’s vision.


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