Replique’s Material Hub: Transforming 3D Printing with One Click

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BASF-incubated spare parts service Replique is opening its 3D Printing Material Hub. This hub is accessible by confirming your email and includes 400 polymers from 25 different manufacturers. Users can search or select materials and then view their ultimate tensile strength (UTS), density, and other properties. Additionally, users can directly download the materials’ data sheets and safety data sheets. This is a valuable resource for everyone, and I hope Replique expands this to include all materials for additive manufacturing (AM) while keeping it free.

 “Replique’s Material Hub significantly accelerates the material selection process. Just recently we have searched for a material that fulfills our high flame retardancy requirements as part of a new 3D printing project. Thanks to Replique’s support we were able to find the right material fast and efficiently. This Material Hub will become a part of our daily-basis tools to help us to develop 3D printing,” said Mathilde Lepilliez, Innovation Manager at French rail company Alstom.

 “We are thrilled with the positive reception of our Material Hub during the beta phase. The public launch marks an important step in our mission to democratize access to additive manufacturing. We are committed to continuously enhancing the platform to meet the evolving needs of our users,” said Replique CEO Max Siebert.

This is true marketing, folks—not just a fluffy or bombastic press release but a useful tool that drives people to your site because of its utility. Many, particularly design engineers and materials specialists, spend a significant amount of time searching for data sheets, listing materials, comparing them, and discovering new ones. Here, I can simply select ASA and view six variants of ASA. I can also choose tensile strength, input a value, and see the corresponding materials. Additionally, there are tags for identifying biocompatible, transparent, or other types of materials. By selecting both biocompatible and transparent, I can narrow down the options significantly. With just a few clicks, I can find materials that have undergone in vitro cytotoxicity testing, can be steam sterilized, or have a specific heat deflection temperature. This tool could have saved me years.

If only other companies would create such useful tools. If Replique expands this across the industry and encompasses nearly all, or all, of the data, then there will be little motivation for others to develop a similar tool. Researchers, engineers, and others will continue to use this tool indefinitely. It is hoped, of course, that people will order parts through the portal in the selected materials as well. But as a tool providing market participants access to information, it also accelerates the deployment of products and the ordering of parts in general. It should assist entities like Replique too and generally increase the company’s utility. It could demonstrate that the company is a partner, not just seeking quick profits. And if people frequently use the tool, they’ll likely upload parts eventually to have them priced, simply because it’s convenient.

For Replique, knowing how many people are looking for PA 11 over PA 12, or if there is interest in higher temperature-resistant flexible materials, would be very valuable. The company could then tweak its portfolio or develop new products, sales, or other offerings based on what people need or lack. I truly believe this is a fantastic tool and a really smart way to approach marketing. Bravo.

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