Lithoz Expands Ceramic 3D Printing to Japan via New Network

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Lithoz is securing the future of its ceramic 3D printing technology in Japan with the formation of a new coalition with leaders from the country’s ceramics and manufacturing industries. Together with AS ONE, Mitsui Kinzoku, and Yugyōkuen Ceramics, Austria’s Lithoz is working to increase the adoption of ceramic additive manufacturing (AM) in the region.

At the heart of this initiative is Lithoz’s Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) technology, developed for the production of advanced ceramic parts for such fields as electronics and medical. With its Japanese partners, Lithoz aims to increase the use of LCM in Japan. AS ONE, a research instruments and equipment company, will act as the primary conduit between Lithoz’s technological prowess and Mitsui Kinzoku and Yugyōkuen Ceramics as contract manufacturers.

“It is fantastic to see commitment to investment in the Japanese 3D printing market. We see such potential there and building such a strong network of leading companies will surely lead to great achievements for the additive manufacturing world! We thank our partners in Japan for trusting us with this important goal,” said Lithoz CEO Dr. Johannes Homa.

It’s worth focusing briefly on Mitsui Kinzoku, a part of the larger Mitsui Group. A roughly $100-billion keiretsu, Mitsui has noteworthy investments and partnerships across various sectors. Notable companies with close ties to Mitsui include the British rail operators Abellio Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, where Mitsui owns significant stakes. Its portfolio extends to investments in major corporations like BHP, Fujifilm, Komatsu, and the mining giant Rio Tinto. In the technology and automotive sectors, Mitsui’s connections include Sony and it has historical ties to Toyota. Other notable associations include investments in Sims Metal, Suntory, Vale, Yamaha, Yanmar, and RTV Pink, highlighting Mitsui’s broad and influential presence in global markets.

Highlighting the complex web that makes up Japan’s keiretsus, Mitsui is also the co-owner of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which it shares with one of the country’s other leading conglomerates, Sumitomo. This is Japan’s second-largest bank after Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. As pedantic as all of this may sound, it’s important to understand both the overlapping nature of these giant companies and see where they place their money in the AM sector. While Mitsui backs an effort with Lithoz, a Mitsubishi spin-out is involved in ceramic binder jetting with a Chinese firm.

3D printed ceramic bone implants. Image courtesy of Lithoz.

For its part, Lithoz has been growing significantly. In 2023, the AM Ventures portfolio company reported a 30% increase in printer sales and nearly doubled its material production,  with the company focused on scaling up mass production through its “Ceramic AM Factory” initiative is highlighted as a key factor in its success. With one of its partners producing over one million parts per year, Lithoz’s efforts in serial production are paying off.

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