3D printer manufacturer Voxeljet AG VJET is set to roll out a new 3D printing system which runs on the new High Speed Sintering (“HSS”) technology this November. The HSS technology is a major step in the metamorphosis of 3D printing from prototyping to large-scale production technology.
Not long ago, plastic 3D printed parts were limited to just prototypes. However, with HP Inc.’s HPQ Multi Jet Fusion technology, Carbon’s CLIP process and now Voxeljet’s High Speed Sintering, polymer-based 3D printing is evolving as a way to produce engineering-grade, end-use parts.
Consequently, an increasing number of companies are focusing the resources on production instead of prototyping technologies.
The new HSS process is akin to binder jetting — Voxeljet’s primary technology. The HSS technology involves an infrared absorbing ink, that is selectively jetted onto layers of plastic powder, which are then exposed to infrared light. The powder melts under the light and forms functional plastic parts with qualities similar to those produced via Selective Laser Sintering, Multi Jet Fusion, or injection molding.
HSS has the potential to streamline supply chains and move production closer to markets, as it is typically 10 to 100 faster than present industrial 3D printing processes, as well as has the potential to produce up to 100,000 parts a day.
HSS will enable Voxeljet to enter the thermoplastics market and directly manufacture end-use products. In fact, HSS’s potential scalability makes it “even more productive compared to other additive manufacturing processes,” according to Voxeljet.
3D printing can now compete with high volume injection molding on price and speed, without the related design limitations, upfront tooling, stock and shipping costs.
Other players in this dynamic industry have also dominated headlines in recent times. Just last week, computer and printing major HP announced the integration of its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer with Siemens' Additive Manufacturing software module. Siemens' new software module will enable customers to integrate design, optimisation, simulation, preparation of print jobs and inspection processes for HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printed parts. This initiative will help improve overall design-to-finished-part workflow efficiency and accelerate 3D printing for industrial production.
In March this year, another major player — 3D Systems Corporation DDD — announced the shipping of its first speedy 3D-printing production platform, Figure 4. In addition, the company unveiled a Figure 4 platform based on the Figure 4 technology and NextDent material, which has been designed for dental applications.The Figure 4 platform is designed to revolutionize the use of 3D printing, right from prototyping to large-scale production.
On paper, 3D Systems' new technology looks similar to Carbon's ultra-fast proprietary CLIP technology. Stratasys, Ltd. SSYS also has a proprietary photopolymerization technology, PolyJet, but does not offer a speedy version of the same.
Amid heightened industry awareness and rapidly innovating technologies, 3D printing demand has been shooting up and will likely boost the profitability of 3D printing companies going forward.
In fact, there are numerous industry experts who anticipate rapid growth for the industry in the years to come. According to Wohlers Associates, a consultancy firm, the global products and services market for 3D printing surged 35.2% to $4.1 billion from 2013 to 2014.
According to a new market research report, the 3D printing market is anticipated to reach to $30.19 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 28.5% between 2016 and 2022. As we discussed, companies have been accelerating the development of new technologies that would help expand market share in the manufacturing industry, by making the process radically faster and boosting the quality of production.
Among end users, the aerospace industry has been leading the way in adopting additive manufacturing, with players like Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and General Electric already employing the technology to make end products.
Investors seem optimistic of the above developments and the future prospects of the 3D printing industry. This has reflected in the share prices of most of the leading industry players. Stratasys, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has appreciated 21.5% in the past six months. HP and Voxeljet, both carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), have gone up 11.4% and 49.1%, respectively. However, we have a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) on 3D Systems, which declined 8.7% during the same time frame.
Among other players in the industry, Materialise NV MTLS, with a Zacks Rank #2, has soared 63.6%, while The ExOne Company XONE, carrying a Zacks Rank #3, has declined 8.2% in the past six months.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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