Additive Manufacturing Europe Takes Steps Toward Industrialization of Prosumer 3D Printing

Industrialization of Prosumer 3D Printing

The first Additive Manufacturing Europe show, which took place in Amsterdam from June 28th to the 30th and was sponsored by SmarTech Publishing — was tasked with the daunting challenge of helping the low-cost desktop 3D printing industry that it so well represented during the 3D Printshow years into a real and professional industry for accessible proto-typing and small series production. Led by Ultimaker and Zortrax the show and the industry now seem ready to enter into this new phase.

Ultimaker Takes the Lead

As anticipated by SmarTech Publishing in the recent Opportunities in Low-Cost 3D Printers: Technologies, Materials and Markets – 2016 report, Ultimaker has taken a leading role in the industry, successfully leveraging on the difficulties encountered by previous market leader MakerBot (not present with a booth at the show). Ultimaker CEO Jos Burger explicitly confirmed this to SmarTech Publishing stating that “we believe we are now market leader in the $2,000 to $5,000 segment”. Burger also added that, although Ultimaker believe they are currently number one, they have no particular in-terest in being alone, welcoming valid competition in order to help build the industry together.

Industrialization of Prosumer 3D Printing

Ultimaker’s large stand showed that the Dutch company is now ready to lead the desktop 3D printing market with solid international structure.

Joining Ultimaker two years ago, Mr. Burger helped the company shift from being a successful startup to a small multinational enterprise, building up to 210 employees globally and a strong presence in both Europe and North America (with a close eye on the APEC market). This is the way other desktop 3D printer manufacturers must follow and, although it is certainly leading, the AM Europe show demonstrated that Ultimaker is also not alone. Poland based Zortrax also was present with a large booth representing the success of its retail efforts over the past two years.

Prosumer Segment Heading Toward Industrialization

SmarTech Publishing is seeing other smaller companies such as Italy based Sharebot and WASP or Latvia based Mass Portal showed that they are investing in technological advancements that can help move the market in new directions. WASP presented a 3 meter tall multi-tool capable machine that can print directly from granules for cost optimization; Sharebot was present with a new version of its prosumer grade $9,000 DLP Voyager 3D printer integrating continuous DLP (C-DLP) for ultra-fast 3D printing. Mass Portal presented a new set of internally developed nozzles which enable its Delta architecture filament extrusion 3D printer to achieve resolutions comparable to high-end SLA.

Zortrax welcomed the prosumer challenge by releasing its new $5,000 M300 system.

In fact the first edition of the show also confirmed another one of SmarTech’s assessments for desktop 3D printing and specifically that the most valuable segment for future growth in this area is the prosumer segment. This is the range from above $5,000 to below $10,000. Zortrax, more aggressively than most other companies, is now finally targeting this area of development by choosing the AM Show Europe show as the venue for the announcement of its new M300 3D printer. This is a new system, very similar to the highly successful M200 but significantly larger, enabling a much wider range of applications.

Finding that Magic Price Point

Zortrax thus departed from the yet unreleased Inventure project for a smaller, consumer-focused desktop 3D printer. The Polish company listened to the market’s demands for a more prosumer-focused system and addressed them with a 3D printer that will be priced at around $5,000 (a significant departure from the current sub-$2000 price tag of the M200). The inverse trend (also described by SmarTech Publishing’s report) is also taking place, with more expensive technologies beginning to become more accessible in lower priced systems.

With its new Voyager WARP continuous DLP system, Sharebot leads the charge of the smaller companies bringing high-end 3D printing technologies into a low-cost, prosumer accessible range.

Sharebot is a clear example with the above mentioned Voyager WARP introducing low-cost continuous DLP and doing what its SnowWhite system is doing for low cost SLS. Other noticeable examples were 3Dee’s $20,000 full color binder jetting system from 3DPandora and South Korea based Rokit’s$20,000 dual extrusion bioprinter.

While we saw other interesting companies present with newly engineered system and materials, the Additive Manufacturing Show transition toward a more industry-centered approach is still only at the beginning, which means not many companies – other than EnvisionTec and Prodways – were present from the market’s high-end segment of 3D printer manufacturing. However it did set a solid foundation on which to build for the upcoming Additive Manufacturing Americas show in Pasadena next December and a great reason to return to Amsterdam in 2017.

Additive Manufacturing Europe Sets Stage for Big Prosumer 3D Printing Announcements

Although still in its first edition, the Additive Manufacturing Europe Show in Amsterdam (sponsored by SmarTech Publishing) presented higher number of new product launches than most shows, as Poland-based Zortrax mode the loudest noise with its M300 and sev-eral other companies following closely behind

While RAPID in the US and formnext in Germany have been shaping up as the ideal sce-narios for new announcements in high-end AM applications and systems, the Additive Manufacturing Europe show in Amsterdam we believe will establish a leadership role in presenting new innovation from the low-cost 3D printing segment, as it transitions toward more prosumer and even low-end industrial applications and technologies. It is not an easy transition although it is a necessary one.

Thinking Bigger

AM Europe Prosumer 3dp

Zortrax chose the AM Europe Show to launch its larger model M300 

We thought that Zortrax showed that it is now thinking big, or at least bigger, with the new M300. The company did exactly what the market asked, departing from the illusion of plug & play, consumer 3D printing and heading toward expanding the possibilities of low-cost prototyping and short series manufacturing. This can now be implemented on its larger ma-chine, while relying on the consolidated Zortrax extrusion process and materials. The M300 has a build volume that is almost four times as large as the M200 (27,000 cc Vs 7,200 cc), with a price that is likely to be just about 2.5 times higher.

Ultimaker is also thinking big, although in a different sense. The company did state that they are working on new systems, however at this time it is focusing primarily on building up its global sales infrastructure, consolidating its presence in Europe and the US, while keeping an eye put for the Asia Pacific markets, where its brand is gaining strength and recognizability. Ultimaker presented its 3D printer farm system, replicating the “MakerBot Innovation Centers” on one of the most successful applications introduced by former mar-ket leader MakerBot focusing on education and the professional segment.

The BigRep booth showed a healthy company to years on, in spite of initial skepticism

When discussing big size 3D printing we at SmarTech Publishing think of BigRep, the German company that first began to industrialize a low cost, large size system based on a cartesian architecture, in spite of general skepticism. Although it did not make announce-ments on new products BigRep was present at the show with a large stand which seems to indicate that the company is also building a solid commercial base. Others are following in this direction with distributor AMR Europe going as far as presenting an extra wide system with quadruple extrusion capabilities.

Pricing Smaller

Italy based Sharebot also arrived at the show with an important announcement: its ultra-fast Voyager WARP continuous DLP 3D printer. As many Italian companies, we think Sharebot has had some difficulties in scaling up its international structure however it has not wasted time in innovating. Today it is the only 3D printer manufacturer that has devel-oped low-cost systems based on five different technologies: filament extrusion, laser stere-olithography, digital light stereolithography, continuous digital light stereolithography and plastic powder bed fusion. The real challenge is making sure that these innovations are re-liable enough to really make it into the prosumer and professional segment.

Antwerp-based 3Dee is taking the 3DPandoras full color binder jetting system to the European market for around $20,000

For 3Dee, the Antwerp, Belgium, based 3D print shop, SmarTech Publishing believes the challenge is similar as they seek to bring a low cost full color, gypsum based, binder jetting system to the market. The system developed by Taiwan based 3DPandoras is priced at around $20,000 (about a third of the comparable 3D Systems 660 system) and offers even better surface quality and water resistance. Combined with a more affordable price for ma-terials, the 3DPanodras system could make the already profitable “mini-me” 3D printed sculptures consumer business accessible to a much wider demographic, with the final price of a 15 cm statuette – currently set at around $80 to $100 – dropping below $30.

A similar approach was undertaken by Netherlands Based Seeda, as it brought the Rokit Invivo bioprinter to the European market, pricing it at around €20,000. Produced in South Korea – one of the nations most active in bioprinting, together with the Netherlands – the fully enclosed machine introduces the possibility to print both scaffold and biioink at the same time, specifically for development of transplantable tissue. It odes this through a dual extrusion (extruder and dispenser) system and up to 7 different supported biomaterials (in-cluding collagen, alginates, silk fibroin and hyaluronic acid).

Consuming Opportunities

Innovations in 3D printing do not simply concern technology. Many new applications of low cost FDM will be possible thanks to advances in materials and material science. One of the most active companies on this front is colorFabb, which is also one of the most successful 3D printer filament manufacturers worldwide. Available later this year, colorFabb presented its new steelFill filament, an impressively heavy composite material based on steel powder.

Dutch filament manufacturer colorFabb presented a new steel filament showing the market for open materials is just starting

Companies like Advanc3d Materials, a producer of both raw filament and raw SLS powder, as well as new players such as Fiberology (which developed a new type of PLA that gains mechanical strength when heated in an oven) show that the market for open materials is wide open and is only going to get much bigger, something that SmarTech Publishing clearly highlighted in its latest report on the Opportunities in Low-Cost 3D Printers. While growth might not be as steep as that of the 3D Print Show series of event, if these are the premises that Additive Manufacturing Europe is building on, the show organizers can look forward to a lengthy growth cycle ahead.