Interview with Origin 3D Printing CEO Chris Prucha

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Origin launched while announcing an “Open Additive Production“…platform…”a new way to build based on open materials, extensible software, and modular hardware” and a simultaneous partnership with BASF to develop materials for it. They mentioned a “combination of surface finish, mechanical strength, and throughput that is unmatched in the industry” without any data to back it up and also that they’d been working with “material partners for a year” on resulting in “some of the toughest and most resilient materials in additive manufacturing.” The company also announced that to date it had received $12.3 million in funding. All in all, it was a bit confusing and muddled. If its open why didn’t you announce it to everyone? And why only work with BASF? And how is this open platform ecosystem different than the open platforms of UnionTech’s? Or RPS? Or Atum3D? Whereas claims such as “application specific materials” and “exceed injection molded strength consistency and durability at a competitive cost” did resonate and “programmable photopolymerization (P3) to turn materials into isotropic parts and products ready for end-use” was exciting, on the whole, I had doubts. There was little in the way of evidence and images. Why so few images and data? Why a lot of claims but no fundamental explanation of their technology? Photopolymers that were tougher than Carbon Fiber polyamide or more resilient than PEEK? I doubt it. Resins with higher chemical resistance, wear resistance and strength than PEKK or PPSU? Have they magically found a way to make photopolymers less brittle and more resistant to UV degradation? Is it smoother than DLP? Less brittle and more UV resistant than FDM materials such as ASA? Befuddled we asked Origin CEO Chris Prucha some questions.

How fast can you print parts?

We currently have a range of materials that can print as fast as anything on the market today, and work closely with material partners to increase speed over time. One of them, for example, recently figured out how to 4x the rate of printing a given object by making a series of small changes to the chemistry after a period of rapid experimentation. Beyond print speed, our post-processing requires a quick 2-3 min bath in solution, followed by a 5-10 min exposure to light in additional wavelengths. This is much faster than the typical multi-hour post processing required by enterprise systems, and makes Origin a much more scalable system than alternatives.

How accurate are printed parts?

“Accuracy” can mean different things, so let me describe a couple of things. Our system has a native resolution down to 50 microns in the X/Y plane and as low as 1 micron in the Z (vertical) dimension (although 20 microns is usually high-enough for our target markets). When we’ve compared printed items like a dental mold to the STL file, we’ve seen that the vast majority of the surface of the printed object is within 20-50 microns of the STL file we used to generate the print and depends on the material.”

How is this different from the existing open desktop FDM ecosystem?

It’s different in 3 major ways:

1) Different target customer: We’ve developed an enterprise system, which is much more precise, consistent, feature-rich, and has better materials than consumer printers.

2) Different chemistry: Our ecosystem is focused on thermosets vs thermoplastics. The latter requires extrusion (like a glue gun) to shape parts with existing materials vs carefully controlling a chemical reaction with new materials. Our system, combined with new chemistries, allows us to form parts at high through-put with unique properties like high resolution textures and superior mechanical properties like toughness, impact strength, and resilience.

3) Different software model: “Open” consumer printers often have open source software that users can go in and modify the source code, Our software is highly adaptable but the source code is not open to customers to modify, though we offer an open API to extend the capabilities of our software and are working with other software companies to integrate with us.

Why should I work with Origin?

World-class materials: You can incorporate amazing application-specific materials from our open network of partners.

Commercial-Grade Parts: You can print parts that match or even exceed injection molding in strength, consistency, and durability at a competitive cost.

Additive Mass Production: You can seamlessly test, iterate, and scale production at a competitive cost with our open approach and modular system.

What is the open ecosystem that you’re developing?

Origin is reshaping additive manufacturing and creating an open ecosystem, with new chemistries that will allow choice and product customization so companies can scale and meet demand in their market with the material of their choice.

Origin works with a network of material companies to develop new material for its system, equipping them with additional tools and expertise to accelerate their R&D and new material discovery. Most enterprise printer companies only offer limited unconfigurable software.

We believe “open additive production” will enable manufacturers to customize and thereby scale additive production, which will create a virtuous cycle of increasingly better and lower cost material, software and hardware, and higher volume production, and ultimately accelerate the adoption of additive throughout manufacturing.

Doesn’t the BASF partnership mean that your ecosystem is not very open to other polymer companies?

The partnership with BASF is not exclusive. We work with several other partners who have also developed new materials for our customers and we present the best option to customers when they describe a specific need vs offering a “favored partner” option. We look forward to announcing more partnerships in the coming months.

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