About a year ago, we first heard about Israel-based XJet, which promised to take metal additive manufacturing technology in a wholly new direction with inkjet printing. Since their emergence as a startup, the company has been moving forward rapidly to introduce their technology to the market. Drawing back to 2005 as a solar company and founded in 2013 with a focus on additive manufacturing, the team at XJet brings together a “great group of scientists, both chemists and material sciences,” as Marcom Manager Alon Ziv told me last week at formnext, uniting scientists with two members of the original team behind Objet, founder and CEO Hanan Gothait and EVP Dror Danai, who now operate as, respectively, the CEO and CBO of XJet.
Investments in XJet have served to underscore the faith some of the biggest names in the industry have in this young company’s vision, as Ziv told me. With investors including Catalyst and Autodesk, XJet benefits not only from funding, but from experience; the chairman of Catalyst also serves as XJet’s chairman. The collaborative development attitude is clearly working for XJet, which came to Frankfurt to connect with industries where their technology could provide great benefits, such as in automotive and dental applications, as well as really any industry that could benefit from precision in small parts production.
The enthusiasm seems to be picking up around the company, as Ziv told me, “Everyone already wants to buy the machine.” While right now XJet is on track for its targeted full release in 2017, they are careful not to make promises ahead of their beta program that will launch early next year, from which they will be drawing necessary pre-market research and gaining invaluable feedback.
XJet has been active in getting the word out about their NanoParticle Jetting technology, welcoming visitors “from all around the world” to their HQ in Rehovot, Israel, and taking their team on the road. We’ve been following as XJet has displayed their technology this year in the US, at both AMUG and RAPID, as well as their presence in Europe at formnext.
“There’s this feeling of being in the middle of a place that will be changing the world of industry in the next few years,” Ziv told me of XJet’s recent experience. “We are coming from an attitude of, ‘Wow, what is this?’ to ‘This will change the world’.”
As XJet’s NanoParticle Jetting inkjet additive manufacturing technology comes ever closer to entering the market, we’ve also seen the focus shift toward materials; now that the 3D printer itself has been developed, XJet is turning its attention to what can realistically be accomplished. While work began with stainless steel as the primary focus, uses in the medical industry recently gave rise to exploration of additional technologies – most notably ceramics.
“Since it was so easy – really, it’s amazing how easy it is – we decided to test it out. This machine works with many materials,” Ziv told me. “The machine is here, materials are now the focus.”
The XJet booth at formnext was constantly busy, with a steady stream of visitors eager to take a first-hand look at the NanoParticle Jetting technology and proofs of concept displayed. As the company continues to develop its materials capabilities and come ever closer to reaching customers, we will maintain our close watch at this technology that has incredible potential to offer ever more to the additive manufacturing market.
Photos: Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com taken on-site at formnext
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