Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Prusa Buys Trilab, Expands into Enterprise 3D Printing

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Prusa has purchased 80% of the shares of Trilab, a Czech manufacturer of delta-style 3D printers for the enterprise market. Coming off of its previous announcement to develop autonomous clusters of Prusa 3D printers for manufacturing, it is a clear indication that the firm has set its sights on more expensive machines and manufacturing.
“Trilab produces high-quality 3D printers for the corporate sector and their brand is very well established in this area. Our machines are aimed more towards hobbyists and they are open-source. This approach may be limiting in corporate and industrial sectors,” Prusa Research founder Josef Průša stated. “We found that we complement each other perfectly. We have a great B2C system – without any intermediaries, we’re capable of distributing our 3D printers and materials to the entire world directly from our HQ in Prague. Trilab has business partners not only in the EU but also in Japan, Izrael, Canada, and Australia. Their business experience is completely different than ours,” 
A lot of people in industry see desktop material extrusion systems as toys—mere desktop boxes for hobbyists. But, in fact, Prusa 3D printers are fast, extremely well made, and, once given some Tender Loving Care, produce highly accurate parts.
Prusa also has branched out into filament and its Prusament is a high-tolerance, high-quality product. By becoming a producer and supplier of filament, and doing so with a high degree of quality assurance and control, while maintaining low prices, the company has swept away the competition. Everyone was competing with high-margin, medium-quality filament and Prusament wiped the floor with almost everybody.
It bought a small Czech SLA company, Futur3D, and, within months of the launch, was one of the largest SLA printer companies in the world (in terms of units, not value). Just because they’re open source, doesn’t meant they’re not coming for you.
I’m so frustrated that people don’t understand just how formidable Prusa Research is as a competitor. Their QA is amazing, as is the overall quality of their systems. At the same time, they deliver products with extremely good value for the money. They survive and thrive in a desktop segment overrun with people that copy their printer and sell if for $200. If they can do well in that market, then eventually, they’ll do well in your market.
Vojtěch Tambor and Michal Boháč founded Trilab, both will stay on at the firm, which will be renamed “Trilab – A Prusa Research Company.” Trilab CEO Michal Boháč. said,
“At the beginning of 2021, we realized that if we were to expand into more markets and accelerate our growth, we needed a strategic partner. After months of negotiations with many foreign companies, we came to a somewhat surprising conclusion: the best solution is to join forces with another Czech company – PrusaResearch,” 
Trilab CTO Vojtěch Tambor stated, “Advanced materials, which Josef Průša develops under the Prusament brand, are a perfect match for our 3D printers – and there’s great potential for future development. Already, our customers are excited to see 3D prints made on our machines with Prusament PC Blend,”
Trilab makes delta 3D printers, an architecture style that is fast, especially in Z, but traditionally has issues with accuracy. Trilabs’ AzteQ Industrial printer has a heated chamber that can run at 80°C, remote access, interchangeable magnetic print heads and can print up to 40 cm parts in nylon and ABS. The printer costs around $10,000 and, uniquely for a Delta, is said to print with flexible filaments. 
I have some misgivings about the Delta architecture. Delta printers are difficult to control. If you told me that you wanted a printer to make lots of cylinders or tall objects, then it would be wonderful. But, I’m more skeptical about the accuracy and repeatability here.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting for Prusa to have two different material extrusion architectures in house. And if anyone can tame a Delta to make it work properly, it’s the people at Prusa. I really hope that the team will look into Full Control and Nonplanar to print in a more controlled manner. If they can use Full Control to optimize Gcode for the motion and forces on the print head and then learn how to print non-planar parts, then I think that this delta printer will surely do well. Many industrial companies will print very few geometries overall and optimized Gcode would really aid these firms in getting improved results on those parts. Also, by truly understanding the forces at work in delta, they should obtain much better outcomes. If they then use the printer to print non-planar parts and adapt it to work better for these parts then they should be able to get much nicer, more accurate parts out of their delta printers.
If they can then maintain speed they will have a very interesting option for manufacturing. It would be a lot of work on software, also for clients, but if they want to go to manufacturing, then this would be a worthwhile challenge that would see them outperform gantry systems, especially for long and thin objects. If the firm doesn’t do this and, instead, wants to go head-to-head with Ultimaker S5, BCN 3D and entry level Stratasys products, it will have a tougher time of it. All in all, this is a great thing for all of us and will make the 3D printing market more competitive.

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