Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Essentium Acquires Collider & its Hybrid DLP 3D Printing Technology

ST Medical Devices

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Industrial high speed 3D printing solutions provider Essentium has been working on expanding to meet demands for the last few years, receiving serious investments, partnering with other companies, and even being awarded a US Air Force contract to drive 3D print solutions for tooling and repair. Today, the Texas-based company revealed that it’s growing even bigger, with the announcement that it has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Collider, which officially came out of stealth mode in 2016 with its hybrid Programmable Tooling technology and Orchid 3D printer.

“Collider has a lot to bring to the table. Their innovative method of bringing together proven technologies to create high- value use cases has already proven their industry value,” explained Essentium’s Chief Technology Officer Jeff Lumetta. “We see significant opportunities in tooling for low volumes of parts and the ability to manufacture geometrically complex, custom parts on-demand and quickly.”

Essentium’s Collider enables complex geometries

Change can often be good, but it’s not always seamless, and many manufacturers working to rapidly respond to market changes have issues when it comes to late-stage product development. It can take precious money and time to create injection moldings or specific tooling for lower quantity parts production, but Collider’s Orchid system, which combines the material strength of injection molding with the speed of Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing, can be used to fabricate a thin, dissolvable photopolymer shell—much different than a permanent, hard tooling mold. This hollow shell is injected with traditional plastic casting materials before being cured through a chemical processes, and a production-quality part is left over once the shell is dissolved in hot water.

Even before Tennessee-based Collider came out of stealth mode, it was racking up investments, including one from venture capital firm Asimov Ventures. The company, which took its name from the famous Large Hadron Collider, has a more hybrid approach to tooling, and its Orchid 3D printer can process several high-performance thermosetting composites and polymers, such as epoxies, foamed resins, carbon fibers, silicones, polyurethanes, and polyesters, as well as sintered metals and ceramics. Supposedly able to achieve very detailed aesthetic surfaces at high speeds, the Orchid 3D printer is also said to offer injection molding-level structural integrity.

At one point, it seemed that the startup was no longer operating, and 3DPrint.com’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Molitch-Hou wondered if Collider might one day soon end up in our Dream Mergers and Acquisitions series…and look where we are now.

In adding Collider’s DLP 3D printing to its portfolio through this acquisition, Essentium can use its expertise in 3D printing and materials science to advance the technology, drive growth and innovation, and give manufacturers a way to speed up the time to parts production across the aerospace, consumer, industrial, medical, and transpiration industries.

“Bringing Collider into the Essentium fold has hugely exciting potential for the industry as manufacturers want a more agile future enabled by AM. As part of Essentium we can open up 3D printing to off-the-shelf materials, fundamentally changing hardware development,” said Collider’s former CEO Graham Bredemeyer, who will now join Essentium as Director of the Photopolymer Group. “Collider’s technology fuels the next wave of AM innovation by enabling mass customization and rapid product innovation.”

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