Euromold –what can be said about the biggest annual showcase in additive manufacturing that hasn’t been said already? Well, this year, perhaps there is a lot to say, as last week’s show brought an absolutely magnificent amount of new product announcements and showcases from some of the industry’s biggest names. In fact, there’s so much innovation and excitement brought to light during the weeklong show, that it can sometimes be easy to miss important details of all the activity.
After all, what gets announced at Euromold almost always has profound effect on the 3D printing industry over the next year. I would say there is no better indication of the direction additive manufacturing is heading than by analyzing what happens at Euromold.
So, in an effort to bring insight to last week’s activity, I’ve brought together a highlight reel of major news and new product announcements from the show, and condensed them by their most interesting points of potential future influence. This is, of course, all based on my opinion. It’s also not an exhaustive list of announcements –just the most stand-out and potentially relevant to the future of the additive manufacturing industry.
Prodways Moving Into Composite Materials and New Markets
Prodways, the relative newcomer to additive manufacturing from France, has been flying under the radar a bit since Groupe Gorge formed the new entity through its acquisition of Phidias Technologies almost a year ago. That is, until last week.
Prodways announced its ProMaker family of products at Euromold, including the ‘L Series’ and ‘V Series’ machines.
The L Series machines, based on the company’s MOVINGLight photopolymerization technology, create high resolution polymer parts from liquid resin. The new L Series machines don’t vary a whole lot outside of the typical graduated product line features such as increased build sizes, and speed increases through the use of either one, or dual print heads. Although these eight new machines are innovative in their own right due to MOVINGLight’s unique approach to photopolymerization, there’s nothing truly earth-shattering about the L Series.
The exciting part comes from the last of the nine machines, and the only machine so far in the V Series, the ProMaker V6000. This machine also operates utilizing the MOVINGLight process of curing liquid materials, however the V6000 is optimized for use with Prodways new pastelike composite materials, rather than regular liquid polymer.
What does this mean? It means the V6000 can fabricate composite parts with high degrees of metal or ceramics nanoparticles, utilizing a photopolymerization based process. That could potentially be a big deal, because curable paste composite materials could get Prodways into new markets in ways its competitors can’t. Biocompatible components, metal composite components, tooling, and other areas for potential end-use products with unique properties all become possibilities.
Combined with the comparatively low costs and build volumes available with MOVINGLight, and Prodways could be on to something big.
Prodways Overall Euromold Impact Level: Very Significant
3D Systems Beefs Up Production Level Offering In Tried and True Technologies, Announces Availability of Innovative Photobooth
Never one to be outdone, 3D Systems followed up last years avalanche of new professional-level printing products with several industrially focused machines at this year’s show.
The most impactful new printer amongst the bunch is the ProX 400, which becomes the largest and most productive metal printing system in 3D Systems’ lineup. The demand for metal printing from 3D Systems customers has been huge in the last 18 months, so the ProX 400 is a natural evolution to continue to nurture this relatively new metal business.
3D Systems Direct Metal Printing systems get praise from users for their ability to handle very small grain metal powders, down to even 10 microns, due to its proprietary powder-compacting powder bed distribution system. The ProX 400 should fit right in and open up new doors for 3D Systems in higher-volume metal component production –an area that will continue to grow through adoption from aerospace and potentially automotive industries in the near term.
The two other machines from 3D Systems are nice in their own respects, as well. The ProX 500 Plus continues the legacy of Selective Laser Sintering while making some improvements. The ProX 800 breathes some innovation into industrial stereolithography, mostly by making the technology more competitive at the industrial level as competing processes have gained some ground.
Overall, the ProX 500 Plus and ProX 800 don’t really shatter any paradigms, but all three new systems combined show a commitment from 3D Systems to moving 3D printing to higher levels –production levels.
The most exciting thing in my opinion from 3D Systems was actually the final revisions and commercial availability of the 3DMe Photobooth. It might surprise (or perhaps bewilder) some of you to hear me say that this product is potentially more impactful than three new production level printers of tested additive technologies. But I applaud 3D Systems’ constant drive to innovate 3D printing in ‘outside the box’ products. The 3DMe booth holds significant potential to add value to 3D printing at a bigger scale, and I think that deserves some recognition. Afterall, everybody brings out faster, better printers each year –but how many take the time, and risk, on totally new paradigms?
3D Systems Overall Euromold Impact Level: Moderately Significant
This blog will be published in four installments, with a new installment being released each day this week! Stay tuned for more!