Essentium Looks to Bridge Gaps in Additive Manufacturing with Real Solutions

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The team at Essentium is always up for a challenge. Whether that’s the challenge of toughening up materials, changing the physics of 3D printing, or backing up their bold claims, the company is ready to rock and roll. Following last year’s major showing at RAPID + TCT and an insightful conversation, at this year’s event it was a pleasure to again sit down with Blake Teipel, PhD, company Co-Founder and President, and the team from Essentium to catch up on the latest from the busy Texas-based enterprise.

Essentium’s new High Speed Extrusion (HSE) platform addresses strength, speed, and cost issues in what the company describes as a system “10x faster than any other industrial extrusion platform.” Ahead of the release, we spoke with the team for more insight into what they would be showcasing at RAPID + TCT.

“We are excited to announce a hardware platform and no-compromise materials portfolio, backed by a true world-class supply chain in our partnership with BASF,” Co-Founder and COO Greg Ojeda told 3DPrint.com.

“For the first time customers don’t have to compromise when they choose 3D printing as their preferred fabrication method. They can choose from the same engineering materials they design for today, get the same characteristics they expect from traditional methods like injection molding, and the strength and accuracy they require to use the final part in their product.

“This is just the beginning, and we believe our industrial platform and materials road map will provide a strong foundational technology as manufacturing continues to transform and mature into a true digital ecosystem.”

Erik Gjøvik, Co-Founder and CPO, continued, telling us that HSE represents a push forward.

“At Essentium, we are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. We’ve built a really strong, scalable machine that is fast enough to make sense in fixtures, tooling, and production at scale. This technology will give our customers the advantage,” he told us.

On site in Texas, I appreciated the opportunity to touch base on some of the company’s spate of updates over lunch with Teipel, Ojeda, and Josh Lawson, Head of Sales and Marketing. With the HSE introduction at RAPID + TCT coming on the heels of Essentium’s AMUG announcement with BASF of new materials and forward momentum for high-strength 3D printed prosthetics creation, there was certainly plenty to discuss.

“We’ve added a machine team, and a major focus on supply chain,” Teipel said. “We launched our beta last year and have systems available for commercial purchase this year. Greg and our entire team have been looking at additive for a long time, and the global supply chain. At AMUG, we furthered our BASF partnership.

“We’ve restructured the company, with a four-time increase in facility size. We added a second location in Texas, and one in southern California. Our work with BASF is deep, and getting deeper. We’re integrating with Europe and getting tech in there for in-situ operations.”

The busy company refers to HSE as a “game changer,” as they did with the FlashFuse last year. Focus is on their platform, as well as materials, for a large view that, Teipel said, “is all about the supply chain.” Lawson added “and scale” to that, to complete a look at the company’s world view.

“There’s a gap between what’s happening in additive manufacturing and in manufacturing,” Lawson said. “We want to be a bridge, and provide solutions.”

Addressing this gap is a major focus for the team, Ojeda underscored.

“All that matters, from our perspective, is that there is a huge gap between ideas and prototyping and production. It’s a change for people to learn, to develop,” he continued.

“The biggest for extrusion-based technologies is Z-strength — and we’ve solved it. We need a solution that can scale; you have to get that throughput. We have a platform with real throughput, materials, and scale. Think of the market for CNC; it’s a huge market, and there’s not a lot of innovation.”

Essentium sees “synergistic opportunities” in their work with BASF, Teipel continued. As BASF’s commitment to additive manufacturing has grown stronger, so too has its investment into the industry — and partnership with Essentium. Strength in materials is a shared focus for the two companies, and in an industry inundated with new product introductions and noise, standing apart with viable solutions is a critical strategy for market success.

As attention-getting as Essentium’s offerings, partnerships, and claims are, it may be tempting to dismiss the company’s proclamations as more hype in a business historically plagued with overpromising.

“We use a lot of flowery words, a lot of buzzwords,” Teipel acknowledged. “But we have real solutions. Challenge anything, any claim. Come see it. Our lens is: reliability and accuracy — at speed.”

Ojeda agreed, noting that Essentium offers a “true industrial ecosystem for real engineers.”

While the company’s claims are large, so is its confidence in those claims. Essentium had plenty of parts and materials to demonstrate live to showcase its high-strength, bridge-gapping solutions.

The only science I very seriously called into question during our discusson was one standout fishy claim; Ojeda, who ordered a Sprite to sip during our sitdown, said that the fizzy drink is good for contact-caused dry eyes. Since the team are so open to being called out on claims, I’m opening this one up to the internet: is drinking Sprite somehow helpful for lubricating dry eyes?

Discuss Essentium and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]


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