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AMS Spring 2023

Germany’s Rapid Shape Brings Automated 3D Printing to North Carolina

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While not as well-known in the U.S., German 3D printer manufacturer Rapid Shape has a unique approach to vat photopolymerization that may actually be more advanced than most products on the market. This is due to the high level of automation that the company has brought to the process. Now, Rapid Shape is introducing its technology the U.S. by opening a North American subsidiary in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Andreas Schultheiss, founder and CEO: “With the opening of Rapid Shape Inc. in the USA, we are creating the best conditions to continue Rapid Shape’s growth in the North American market. We place great value on personal consultation, fast and excellent service, and short delivery routes. With our local sales, logistics and support activities, we can now better serve the U.S. and Canadian markets.”

Rapid Shape’s 3D Printing Technology

Rapid Shape was established in 2011 near Stuttgart, Germany, by precious metal heating and casting company Schultheiss GmbH. The experience of its founders has, therefore, enabled Rapid Shape to introduce automation to its digital light processing (DLP) 3D printers.

This includes automatic separation units that remove parts from the build platform so that the system can initiate the next print job. An automatic refill unit also maintains a constant supply of material. Additionally, Rapid Shape worked with Dutch research center TNO to create its force feedback technology, which measures the forces that occur during the 3D printing process and their impact on the printed part.

The RS Inline from Rapid Shape

While these benefits can be had through the use of individual 3D printers, Rapid Shape has also applied the technology to its RS inline platform. A production line made up of two to five 3D printers linked by a conveyor belt, the RS inline can automatically manufacture 300 to 4,000 parts per day. This could be ideal for dental labs looking to mass manufacture dental aligners.

Rapid Shape’s 3D Printing Footprint in North America

In actuality, the new subsidiary isn’t Rapid Shape’s first entrance into North America. By working with a variety of partners—including Straumann US, Würth Additive Group, Opulent, Henkel, Keystone, and others—the company has made inroads into the market. However, it will now have a more official and established presence on the continent at the Centennial Campus of NC State University. This location was chosen for its proximity to students and faculty, with NC State’s Center for Additive Manufacturing and Logistics (CAMAL) and its director, Ola Harrysson, assisting in situating Rapid Shape on campus.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Rapid Shape Inc.’s subsidiary in Raleigh, USA. Image courtesy of Rapid Shape Inc.

Of the new North American headquarters, Rapid Shape Managing Director Andreas Schultheiss said, “NC State provides access to top talent within walking distance of our new office. The resources and infrastructure available in CAMAL will support Rapid Shape’s growth in the North American market.”

The company has already contributed equipment to the school for use in education and training. It has also hired engineering graduates from NC State and is collaborating with the College of Engineering to create an internship program, where students will be able to work with Rapid Shape.

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