Late last month at RAPID + TCT in Fort Worth, Texas, Ultimaker announced that it had established collaborative alliances with several global material companies, as part of a program with an aim to increase the amount of engineering composites and plastics that will work with its 3D printing portfolio. One of the companies that Ultimaker is now a materials partner with is Owens Corning, a worldwide leader in glass fiber-reinforced composites.
Owens Corning, which helped develop the robotic 3D printing Atropos technology and also partnered with D-SHAPE for 3D printing materials, is well known for its line of high-performance XSTRAND products.
“The performance and reliability of Ultimaker 3D printers was key for us in the development of the XSTRAND composite filament,” Dr. Chris Skinner, Director of Front End Innovation at Owens Corning, said last month regarding the company’s alliance with Ultimaker.
Now, the company has signed a distribution agreement with Illinois-based M. Holland Company, a top international distributor of thermoplastic resins, for its XSTRAND product line.
M. Holland, which has over $1 billion in annual sales and sells to more than 4,000 customers each year, is now the US Master Distributor for Owens Corning’s XSTRAND composite filaments, which will enable its own clients in the thermoplastic resin industry to make high-performance 3D printed parts.
The XSTRAND product line of 3D printable composite filaments, which is also distributed by IC3D, is part of an increasing market segment in which M. Holland is making a significant investment, in order to support its clients’ needs, as well as its own 3D printing initiatives.
Ed Holland, CEO at M. Holland, explained, “We expect 3D printing to become an integral part of the global manufacturing infrastructure. Consistent with our mission as a distributor, we want to provide our suppliers with reliable channels to the plastics market while providing our clients with customized solutions to their material needs, which, to a growing degree, include 3D printing.”
M. Holland provides suppliers with both sourcing and supply chain solutions, so they can achieve strategic channels to market. In an effort to support its own initiatives in the 3D printing world, the company has been adding dedicated commercial and technical support resources, along with investing in new capabilities in the technology at its research and development center in Pennsylvania.
The XSTRAND composite filaments by Owens Corning use proprietary fiber reinforcement technology, which was developed in the company’s global technical network; this network includes laboratories in the US and France which are dedicated solely to 3D printing. The materials, which have both good chemical and UV resistance, make it possible to 3D print parts that are up to 50 to 250% stiffer and stronger, which makes them, according to a release, “structurally superior to traditional 3D printed parts.”
The combination of strength, resistance, and performance make the XSTRAND product line well suited for applications in functional prototyping and industrial production.
Starting later this month, M. Holland will manage a network of sub-distributors that will offer XSTRAND filaments, as well as directly distributing the products to its own clients in the thermoplastic resin industry in the US and Mexico.
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