American Banknote Corporation (ABCorp), one of the oldest manufacturing services providers in the United States, is announcing another expansion to its Center of Excellence in Boston. Back in May, ABCorp added automated inspection from Solution IX and industrial dyeing from Girbau to the lineup in its 125,000-square-foot facility, which already included a whole host of HP Multi Jet Fusion printers, as well as AMT’s PostPro3D Smoothing System. Now, ABCorp will start offering its customers the ability to use the Shop System from Desktop Metal, one of the world’s fastest-growing 3D printing startups.
ABCorp’s history can be traced back to 1795, when, under its original name, the American Banknote Company, it helped the First Bank of the United States create currency that was more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. The collaboration between such a longstanding firm and a newcomer like Desktop Metal not only shows that it’s never too late for a business to adapt, but also the exact extent to which conventional business is starting to take seriously the emerging additive manufacturing (AM) industry, especially regarding the newer manifestations of metal AM.
This point is reinforced by a comment made by William Brown, ABCorp Chairman and CEO: “Many of our relationships date back decades, if not centuries, and we do not enter into strategic partnerships impulsively….We are excited about Desktop Metal’s roadmap for new materials and the future of our partnership.”
The partnership being created here can be seen as part of a trend in New England, which is becoming a hotbed for AM. This was highlighted by a grant program in Connecticut announced by the state’s Governor Ned Lamont back in September, as well as a grant to Yale University to study the potential for metal AM around the same time. The Boston area, where Desktop Metal is based, is particularly busy with 3D printing activity, as Markforged, Inkbit, Voxel8 and others have located their headquarters there. It’s fascinating to see that, as what’s often referred to as “Industrial Revolution 4.0” evolves, it’s contributing to the revamping of the same areas where America’s first Industrial Revolution originally took off.
As the industry continues to come into clearer focus over the next decade, we’ll see more and more overlap between older entities like ABCorp and startups like Desktop Metal. The particular advantage to this sort of partnership is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of investment from either party to work. It’s clearly far less of a risk for ABCorp to invest in a suite of Desktop Metal machines than it would be to create an entire factory, for instance, while Desktop Metal can similarly increase its presence in a particular region without having to open up a new headquarters or hub. The more AM proves to be able to provide the same quality as more conventional versions of manufacturing, the less trepidatious companies with lengthy presences in America will be that they’re putting their reputations on the line by delving into the industry.
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