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Materials Companies Get Serious at RAPID 2019

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Still reeling from a flurry of activity at RAPID 2019, I thought I’d share a thought that occurred to me at the show. Materials companies are getting serious about additive manufacturing.

Certainly that was evident on the metals side. Carpenter Technology for example, introduced their new Carpenter Additive division. It serves as a single source for its clients, not only providing metal powder, but also offering assistance with qualifying and producing metal parts.

Oerlikon was also at the event and showed off its new Innovation Hub & Advanced Component Production facility, located in Huntsville, Alabama. They invested over $50 million in the 125,000 sq foot center, which employs about 60 people. It officially opened shortly after the show.

Perhaps one of the biggest splashes at the show was made by Henkel’s Loctite brand. It seemed the company was everywhere. Their exhibit was up front-and-center and nearly everyone was wearing a Loctite lanyard. At their booth they displayed some exciting new use cases for their materials, including end-use parts for laboratory and medical equipment.

A week or so before the show, Henkel announced their acquisition of Molecule Corp. They provide advanced solutions for 3D printing applications – including medical device, aerospace, automotive and a wide variety of consumer goods – as well as industrial inkjet materials.

From the use cases I saw, it seemed Henkel was already busy at work, implementing Molecule’s capabilities into their offering.

That wasn’t all though. Henkel also unveiled its new Open Materials Platform. With it, they’re collaborating with 3D printing equipment manufacturers to develop materials for specific markets and applications. At the show, they announced partnerships with EnvisionTEC, Origin, and NewPro3D.

In the post-show press release, NewPro3D’s COO, Gabriel Castanon, discussed their collaboration in the medical field, noting that:

“NewPro3D’s working relationship with Henkel is the perfect marriage between machine and material, producing functional models at very high print speeds. Ultimately, both companies are excited to drive innovation in a field that directly touches people’s lives.”

Finally, Henkel also participated in and was recognized as a finalist for the Innovation Award at RAPID. They were the only materials company considered for this prestigious award.

From my perspective this seems to be a shift versus previous years. In the past, materials companies were certainly visible. But now it seems they’re working hard to collaborate with equipment manufacturers and the end-users of additive manufacturing alike. It feels like they’re getting serious, and that’s an indicator of this market’s potential over the next few years.

Stay tuned…it’s going to be a wild ride.

John Hauer is the Founder and CEO of Get3DSmart, a consulting practice which helps large companies understand and capitalize on opportunities with 3D printing. Prior to that, John co-Founded and served as the CEO of 3DLT. The company worked with retailers and their suppliers, helping them sell 3D printable products, online and in-store.

Follow John on Twitter @Get3DJohn

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