Additive manufacturing (AM) services company EVO 3D has put together four new packages of robotic pellet printing systems for its customers. The UK-based company, which rebranded from its original name, J-Supplied earlier this year, provides a full gamut of AM products and solutions. Yet EVO’s latest update to its catalog suggests the company may have also found its own niche within the industry.
Along with its rebrand at the beginning of 2022, EVO 3D received £250,000 in investment from Evolution Sales and Marketing — another UK company, whose co-founders now also hold leadership roles at EVO 3D. The timing of all these moves illustrates the extent to which the company sees robotics-driven pellet printing as its future. Such a shift would reflect nicely the quite straightforward principle found in the “About Us” section on EVO’s website: “The key to a successful adoption of 3D printing is reliant on the integration of the correct printers, materials, software, employee training and technical support.”
“Integration” is the key word here, which also sums up the new printer packages EVO 3D is offering. EVO is working with three other companies on the deals:
- KUKA, a manufacturer of industrial robots
- Ai Build, a robotic 3D printing software developer
- Dyze Design, a company that produces parts for 3D printers
The four packages essentially run from smallest to largest and lowest to highest cost, and each one comes with Ai Build’s Ai Sync software, as well as a different combination of KUKA robotic arm and Dyze Design pellet extruder. For instance, the smallest package — the “Small but Mighty” — contains Dyze Design’s Pulsar Pellet Extruder with an extrusion rate of 2 kg per hour, and KUKA’s LBR iiwa robot, which has an 820 mm reach. The largest package, the Long Arm Super Heavy, has an extruder with an output of 84 kg per hour, and the KUKA KR QUANTEC, which has a reach of 3,904 mm. Additionally, EVO 3D, as it does with the other products it sells, offers full technical support as well as staff training for the systems it installs for its customers.
Robotic pellet printing is most often employed for large end-products, such as components for the aerospace and automotive industry. The advantages to the technology don’t just include speed and efficiency but, equally, cost: for a given kind of plastic, pellets can be anywhere from 65 to 90 percent cheaper than filaments. Moreover, plastic pellet printing, as EVO 3D also touts on its website, probably simplifies the use of recycled materials more than any other 3D printing technology, facilitating a readymade circular economy for customers.
The particular technology at hand is one that is inherently both complex and versatile, so this type of offering lends itself especially well to the business model that EVO 3D is deploying here. In general, though, you could see this increasingly become the norm the more the industry grows. Legacy tech companies have already been moving more and more to a subscription-based model. The format here — three different hardware and software companies integrated by a service provider — is one that would eventually be perfect for subscriptions or leases. Building a subscription model into the equation from the beginning would make it easier for companies to both scale up and control costs. And, most importantly, it would be a significant contributor towards minimizing the industry’s long-term carbon footprint.
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