m2Within the 3D printing space, materials really are everything. If we were only able to print using thermoplastics, the industry would never have taken off. Although thermoplastics and thermoplastic composites rule the consumer side of the market, it’s resins, metals, and metal alloys that are spawning the growth seen within the industrial side of the market.

One company which understands the importance of material choices within the space is Belgium-based Materialise (NASDAQ:MTLS). This has been a busy week for the company, which is currently on hand at RapidPro where they have unveiled a new 3D printable material while also just releasing their 2014 fourth-quarter earnings.

First, let’s start with the material news. Announced at RapidPro, Materialise will soon be offering a new metal printing option: Aluminum. The aluminum alloy, AlSi10Mg, that the company will soon make available, is catered toward their industrial customers who have applications within the areas of aerospace and automation, including engine parts, production tools, ductwork, housings, and molds. This material can be used for prototyping as well as end-use production parts.m3

“We believe that offering aluminum alongside a wide range of polymers allows us to be of better service to our customers,” says Jurgen Laudus, Director of Additive Manufacturing Solutions at Materialise. “Aluminum is a perfect addition to the plastic materials we already offer and it opens doors for new applications.”

AlSi10Mg is an alloy which possesses many superior qualities to those of plastics and even some other metals which other companies are using to print. It has good strength and thermal properties while also being light in weight. Typically, AlSi10Mg has been used for the casting of parts with complicated geometries and thin walls.

It will be interesting to see if this new material offering eventually leads to additional revenue for the company. This morning they’ve reported their earnings for the last quarter, and the numbers point to a continuation of their growth. Highlights of the fourth-quarter 2014 report are as follows:

  • Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was €927,000.
  • Revenue for the quarter increased 20.9%  year-over-year to €23.591 million.
  • Sales of software for 3D printers rose 50.8% from the fourth quarter of 2013, representing 35.1% of total sales of the company.
  • R&D expenses have increased €1.758 million and S&M expenses €2.641 million.
  • Adjusted EBITDA was €927 k.
  • Margins for the quarter were just 3.9%.

The market must have been expecting a report that was slightly better, as shares of Materialise are trading down approximately 1.3% this morning thus far.

Let us know your thoughts on this new aluminum alloy material as well as the company’s fourth-quarter report. Discuss in the Materialise forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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