I’m a total 3ntr fan. We previously interviewed 3ntr CEO Davide Ardizzoia, looked at the business’s newer machines, and saw how they could 3D print oil and gas valves in PEEK. With robust frames and temperature-controlled nozzles, the Italian company’s machines are no nonsense manufacturing tools and unequivocally so. Those 3D printers have just gotten bigger. The firm has now announced the release of its new Sequoia machine, which features a build volume of one square meter.
The Sequoia is the first of the firm’s V5 series. The sizable build volume can extrude multiple materials, such as soft TPU and hard ABS filaments in one print or part. Touted to have the same reliability and quality as 3ntr’s existing systems, it is aimed at the automotive, electronics, sports equipment, general industrial, and machinery markets. Under the questionable slogan ¨Sequoia: look up, think biggest!¨, the printer was launched at Mecspe 2022, a large Italian manufacturing trade show.
I really believe that we’re seeing a market emerge where $300 printers will be for toying around, $2,000 printers will become quite capable, and $10,000 printers will be the in-office workstation. This leaves a bigger segment for printers that cost over $100,000, which could be super accurate, super fast, or large format.
At the same time, in the future, I’d expect people to weigh their options more and choose between $300 decent and finicky entry-level machines or a single $2,000 printer that works well. At the next buying level, they might pick five $2,000 systems over a single $10,000 option. Smaller printers will give you greater flexibility and cheaper cost-per-part, but you less reliability and repeatability. The one feature that larger systems offer that smaller options can’t is access to complete, large parts, without the need for assembly.
This is especially important for applications such as formwork, aerospace tooling ,and general construction applications. I do think that these markets in and of themselves will be very relevant in the future. At the same time, markets such as outdoor advertising, molds, large prototype parts and housings are already served by similar systems. There are a lot of one-off or low-volume objects around that are less than 1m x 1m in size. 3D Systems’ purchase of Titan Robotics demonstrates that the industry stalwart truly believes in the segment, as well.
If you look at the world in that way, then everyone will cannibalize everyone else in all market segments. Then, it also will be clear that, for high-tech-oriented firms, bigger is the way to go. Reliability and accuracy in large systems is very difficult to achieve. Bigger is harder, since it requires more control, a better chassis, more engineering, and more precision. Out-engineering with bigger machines is therefore the logical step.
This will also eventually put a number of competitors much closer to the currently unassailable Stratasys Fortus systems. I think that true competition for large FDM parts and systems will be great for the industry. I’d also really applaud a tie up between 3ntr and a company such as Ultimaker or BCN to really give a company a full line-up of printers in order to better compete with Stratasys.
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