AMS Spring 2023

Steel Giant Takes Home Large-Scale Metal 3D Printer from Eplus3D

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Rapidly expanding metal powder bed fusion (PBF) manufacturer Eplus3D has found an important client in JINGYE Additive Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Hebei JINGYE Group. Best known for being the owners of British Steel, the $4 billion conglomerate is one of the world’s largest steel companies. JINGYE has acquired an EP-M650, a quad laser metal 3D printer with a sizable build volume of 655 x 655 x 800 mm (2.15′ x 2.15′ x 2.63′).

 

Eplus3D is a newly emerging maker of inexpensive metal PBF 3D printers that are more than a tad reminiscent of PBF systems made by certain other firms. Together with Farsoon, they exemplify a bold set of Chinese players who aim to conquer the additive manufacturing (AM) OEM market for metals. We’ve mentioned before that Eplus does not only have low-cost machines, but rather large ones, too. This includes the EP-M450H, which has a build volume of 455 by 455 by 1100 mm, as well as the EP-M650.

“The first EP-M650 3D Printer arrived a few months ago and we installed it immediately, which has been continuously printing metal parts. Often one part has to be printed for more than ten days. At present, the printing success rate of our large parts is 100%, and there is no waste product. Whether it is foreign or domestic 3D printers, it is very difficult to do this, as the requirement of the stability is very high. Continuous printing for up to 12 days without any problems in the process, requires high stability of the 3D printer. If the intermediate printing of such a large product fails, a lot of powder materials will be wasted , which may cost a lot , and seriously affect the delivery date,” an unnamed JINGYE representative was quoted as saying.

“JINGYE Additive Manufacturing attaches great importance to the development of 3D printing projects, and spare no effort to provide all-round support, promote the development of high-end manufacturing and intelligent manufacturing industry, and contribute to China’s entry into a powerful country in science and technology.”

Now a few things here that make this very interesting indeed. First off, this could mean that Chinese firms are able to produce cutting-edge systems in the very highest regions of our current market. Everyone expects Chinese OEMs to snip at the heels of established competitors on the accessible end of the product portfolio. However, this may mean that Chinese firms will try to sell their much more expensive wares internationally, as well.

JINGYE´s involvement also points to serious levels of Chinese commercial capital being available to develop 3D printing at an industrial scale. What’s more, with both firms touting this as a part of the “development of high-end manufacturing and intelligent manufacturing industry,” much more local, regional, or national funding could be in the offing.

It is a priority for China to develop high-end manufacturing nationally. In our, “China’s Belt and 3D Printed Road” series, we’ve explored China’s accelerated national development of additive manufacturing (AM). This is a key national priority. We’ve looked at how the country is using 3D printing technology to advance complex manufacturing skills, as well as how it will use AM to extend its technological capabilities.

We’ve also pointed out that the global 3D printing market is split in two, with Chinese firms turning almost exclusively to Chinese OEMs for 3D printers. 3D printing is also an integral part to China’s self-sustainment strategy and to its attempts to make aero engines and craft. What we are seeing here is validation of that thesis that the 3D printing market is actually bifurcated. China will serve as a home base to incubate Chinese 3D printing technology and give companies revenue for expansion. If you are a legacy OEM outside of China and this doesn’t scare you, it probably should.

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