Munich-based Additive Elements has been working on their 3D printing material system for some time now and, following two and a half years of intensive research and development, is now announcing that their highly anticipated AE12 is ready for market. AE12, a PMMA-based material for industrial binder jetting processes, promises an eco-friendly 3D printing experience — and that promise is underscored by a firm foundation in development and with some new supporting accolades. At Rapid.Tech, currently running in Erfurt, Germany, Additive Elements was one of three winners of this year’s Start-Up Competition.
Thilo Kramer, CEO and Co-Founder of Additive Elements, has shared details with us about the company’s recent announcements, as the young endeavor begins to pick up traction in the market.
“AE is based in Munich and was founded 2 years ago from Bennet Klein, Simon Salowsky, Johannes Günther and me. Additive Elements is a material development start-up for industrial binder-jetting,” Kramer tells us of the company’s background.
“Johannes is a Physicist and worked more than 10 Years for Voxeljet. He was responsible for the development of new materials. Simon and Bennet founded Trindo, a sister company, who helps us to promote our material, some years before and have a lot of experience in everything regarding to 3D-printing. I’m a physicist too and already founded AE while finishing my studies. AE was financed by itself, by doing material development for external companies.”
Additive Elements’ new polymerization process offers low production costs and scalability to binder jetting, a 3D printing technique favored by the likes of voxeljet. The process can be scaled for use with that company’s large production machines, offering what Additive Elements describes as “much better properties than currently produced parts.” Costs of production are lowered as well through the system, said to enable high-volume manufacturing for 30% of the costs of comparable SLS technologies. Additive Elements additionally claims the ability to create parts of up to one meter at speeds ten times faster than those possible via SLS or MJF technologies, and with 100% powder reuse capabilities.
Industry experts have been looking to the release of Additive Elements’ technology as big news for polymers in 3D printing. AE12 was announced in December 2016. The AE12 material system, based on PMMA acrylics, polymerizes a binder mixed with additives to create high-density — that is, high-strength — parts, and allowing for full reusability of unused materials. Additive Elements notes that the process isn’t suited for extreme mechanical jobs, but is targeting markets looking to create high-quality functional objects.
“With our new process, we address lots of different markets,” Kramer says of their offering. “Beside low production costs and scalability, one of the biggest advantages is the ‘easy to finish’ surface. Our focus is on large parts for prototyping, positive molds for vacuum casting, lampshades and hopefully many more in the future.”
Among Additive Elements’ first customers is German 3D printing service company FORMRISE, which has utilized the system for large-scale applications.
“Seeing the machine and the process from Additive Elements is really impressive,” CEO Peter Spitzwieser says. “With SLS, large parts are way too expensive for a lot of applications. Now we are finally able to realize projects that we had to reject a year before, because of the price.”
This week at Rapid.Tech, Additive Elements is showing off examples of creations possible with their process. The company also participated in the annual startup competition, presenting their AE12 material — and taking home a win.
“The award was held for the fourth time this year,” Kramer tells us. “Among all participants, 8 finalists were invited to Erfurt and are allowed to present their products on the start-up area. On the first day, each start-up had to hold a 15-minute pitch. The jury, among others Arno Held from AM Ventures, Carl Fruth from Fit AG and Michael Sorkin from Formlabs, have selected the winners. In total there was 6000 € prize money and for the 3 winners a trade fair booth at the Rapid.Tech exhibition 2018.”
The show itself is proving a valuable experience for the young company, as both Additive Elements and Rapid.Tech have been experiencing growth.
“Rapid.tech took place for the first time in 2013 and has grown massively since then. In 2016 more than 170 exhibitors and more than 4000 visitors were present,” Kramer tells 3DPrint.com.
“It was a great exhibition for us so far. People were really impressed by the size and production costs of our parts.”
Looking ahead, Additive Elements is projecting further applications for binder jetting as the technology is subject to improvements such as theirs, allowing for greatly enhanced capabilities. The company is ambitious in their intentions, aiming high to unlock the potential of additive manufacturing.
“We are already working on flexible plastics on lab-scale,” says Johannes Günther, Additive Elements’ Senior Developer. “We believe that the power of the Binder Jetting technology is strongly underestimated. With AE12, Binder Jetting is finally able to adapt post processing solutions like automated depowdering or surface treatment due to higher stability of the parts. We will release the full power of the technology.”
While presently their production services are available only through the company, Additive Elements is looking to expand availability, planning global sales of their process and material.
Sister company Trindo was established in 2012 as a full-service 3D printing solutions provider. Additive Elements’ other sister company, DyeMansion, focuses on adding color to the 3D printing process and recently won the German Accelerator Tech program and will be bringing its color capabilities soon to Silicon Valley. All three companies are based in Munich, Germany. Discuss in the Additive Elements forum at 3DPB.com.[All images provided to 3DPrint.com by Additive Elements]