DRIVING DISRUPTION THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS AND OPEN ECO-SYSTEMS
As industry pioneers, we at Materialise have always been prescient of future potential based on the leaps and bounds being made across the board in 3D printing technology. The same is true in the era of Industry 4.0, in which the manufacturing industry is eager to integrate additive manufacturing (AM) into the overall production process.
As Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen underlined, it is important that we form alliances and work together so as to provide more control (but also more freedom), vaster choices in terms of materials and systems, and lower costs down the line. Materialise is a major player in spearheading the movement towards a more open market model, partnering with industry leaders to pave the way.
Moving beyond innovation through collaboration
It was in this spirit that Materialise formed a strategic alliance with our valued partner BASF and Essentium, Inc., a Texas-based developer of innovative hardware solutions for disruptive, industrial AM. The three companies combine their strengths to advance 3D printing technology and customer value. BASF contributes their comprehensive material expertise while Essentium provides the hardware with their industrial additive platform and Materialise the software backbone.
TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY TO CHANGE THE SUPPLY CHANGE
The partnership between BASF, Essentium, Inc., and Materialise will generate interest in markets where, at present, the existing 3D-printing technologies are still not matching user needs. In a nutshell: the total cost of ownership is still too high, the existing software does not afford as much control or freedom as is required, the choice of materials is not varied enough, and the production volume is too low. The combined complementary strengths of our three companies covers all of these factors.
Behind the scenes at the Essentium, Inc. headquarters in Texas
We at Materialise see 3D printing as being a game changer that will impact the manufacturing value chain. This, however, is contingent on two factors: continuous innovation within the industry and more open market models for AM. In terms of the first, Essentium is right on the money with their high-speed extrusion technology. They were able to correctly identify the untapped potential of an existing technology that had seemingly gone past its prime, and apply it where it can truly make a difference. In terms of the latter, the alliance between Materialise, BASF, and Essentium was made in an effort to move towards a more open eco-system. A personal anecdote to illustrate this:
While visiting the Essentium, Inc. headquarters in Texas, we gave them a spool of our own material, without providing them with any information. They put the spool in their machine, and within one hour’s time, they got it working, and were able to print parts. This had never been seen up until that moment in time; ordinarily, a lot of time and effort is required, and for the most part nothing comes of it. In contrast, the team in Texas simply put our spool on their machine, entered a few parameters, and away it went, producing a decent component. To us, this was very inspiring: it truly showed the potential of an open system.