3D Printing News Digest

3D printing industry news sliced: Makerbot, Medtronic, Xometry, Sintavia, Formnext, MACH and more 

In this edition of Sliced, the 3D Printing Industry news digest, we cover the latest business developments, partnerships, and acquisitions across our industry. 

Today’s edition features some of the biggest names in the industry, with updates on 3D printing events, a number of acquisition deals, a software beta invitation, and even a Swarovski 3D printed ice sculpture-inspired vase. 

Read on for the most recent updates from GE Additive, Total Corbion, Additive Flow, the MTA and more. 

Business updates from MakerBot, Xometry, and Vertex

Beginning with business news, Brooklyn-based desktop 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot has signed a distribution agreement with additive manufacturing service provider The Unitum Group. The deal will see Unitum resell MakerBot’s METHOD 3D printers across Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (Benelux) via its Distrinova division. The company is already a specialized distributor of 3D printing solutions in the region, and now it will also offer the full METHOD range through its extensive network of channel partners.

“We are very proud to introduce MakerBot and the METHOD technology into our product portfolio,” said Guy Van der Celen, CEO of Unitum Group BV. “With the METHOD range we can provide our resellers network not only reliable, state-of-the-art 3D printers, but also the opportunity to offer their customers high value-added solutions for a broad range of new application areas.”

Unitum will now offer MakerBot’s full range of METHOD 3D printers. Photo via MakerBot.

Xometry meanwhile, the on-demand manufacturing marketplace, has announced the launch of its Advance Card. Aimed at the company’s 3,000 US-based manufacturing partners, the account provides cashback on 30% of the value of the jobs they accept. With up to $7,500 available on each project, the card provides affiliates with the opportunity to improve their cash flow and gives shops extra capital to spend on expenses. 

The Advance Card can be used wherever Visa is accepted and has no hidden fees, interest, bills, or impact on the holder’s credit, and its spending limit is set automatically based on the work partners take. If money on the card is not used, it can simply be returned with the rest of their job payment. For a limited time, Xometry is those that sign up for the card $100 upon its activation. 

“We want to do everything we can to help small and medium-sized American shops in our partner network succeed,” said Randy Altschuler, Co-founder and CEO of Xometry. “The Xometry Advance Card makes it easier for our partners to buy what they need to keep their shops growing without worrying about cash flow. Over time, we will also be adding opportunities for discounts and benefits on products relevant to manufacturing partners who are cardholders.”

Lastly in the 3D printing business world, Greg Morris, the founder of Morris Technologies (MTI), and former MTI employee Steve Rengers have started a new company. Located in Cincinnati, Vertex Manufacturing already offers a range of services including multi-axis CNC machining, 3D printing, rapid casting, and the final inspection of manufactured parts. While Vertex was intentionally created to cater for medium-volume production jobs, the business is structured to grow with customer demand, should it be necessary. 

“The innovative spirit that drove Morris Technologies, Inc. to become the premier global supplier of additive metal printing services and capabilities, is now fueling our new company,“ said Morris, CEO of Vertex Manufacturing. “Leveraging decades of experience with thousands of applications across a variety of industries, we deeply understand companies’ requirements, specifications, constraints, and pain points.”

Morris and Rengers (pictured), have started a new company following the acquisition of Morris Technologies. Photo via the EIN press wire.
Morris and Rengers (pictured). Photo via the EIN press wire.

Sintavia acquires additional 3D printer from GE Additive

Metal 3D printing service Sintavia has announced that it has acquired another Q20+ electron beam printer from 3D printer OEM GE Additive. Overall, the company now has three electron beam printers and nineteen industrial metal printers. The new system will be installed at the company’s Hollywood production facility in early August. 

“Over the past several years, we have worked to qualify the Q20+ for aerospace manufacturing and now have several aerostructure product lines that depend on this technology,” said Brian R. Neff, CEO of Sintavia. “Electron beam printing is an excellent option for complex titanium aerospace components, and this business line will continue to grow for us.”

MACH exhibition rescheduled, Formnext + PM South China canceled

The UK government has issued new guidelines outlining the ‘All Secure Standard,’ to ensure that British-based shows and exhibitions can go ahead in the coming months. The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), which owns and organizes the MACH exhibition on behalf of the industry, has been closely involved in drafting the guidelines. As a result, the MTA “strongly believes” that the event will be safe for visitors and exhibitors, and go ahead as planned from January 25th-28th 2021. 

“Improving the productivity of our manufacturing base must be a key policy objective, and there are so many opportunities to do this,” said Marcus Burton, President of the MTA. “We are starting to see the early signs of recovery in a number of sectors, and the timing of MACH 2021 could not be better to support UK manufacturing to invest in productivity improvement and plan for recovery and growth.” 

Mach 2020 has been rescheduled following the latest advice from the UK government regarding COVID-19. Photo via MACH.
Mach 2020 has been rescheduled following the latest advice from the UK government regarding COVID-19. Photo via MACH.

Organizers of the new Formnext + PM South China fair, have also issued an update about their event. The first edition of the exhibition, which was due to take place in Shenzhen this September, will now take place in 2021. Citing various complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, co-backers Messe Frankfurt said the event had to be canceled because it couldn’t “fulfill the concept” that had been presented to its stakeholders. While an announcement on the exact dates for the 2021 edition will be made in due course, the revised fair will be taking place at the brand-new Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center. 

“In our debut edition, we wanted to have this full picture presented, however after consulting with our exhibitors, supporting associations and other partners, due to various complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic we came to the conclusion that this concept couldn’t be realised adequately in 2020,” said Hubert Duh, Chairman of Guangzhou Guangya Messe Frankfurt Co Ltd.

“It is unfortunate that we cannot hold the debut edition of Formnext + PM South China this year, but in the end the decision was unavoidable,” added Zhu Xiao Feng, General Manager of co-organiser Uniris Exhibition Shanghai Co Ltd. “As the fair focuses on both the AM and PM industries, its location in Shenzhen given the rapid development of the city’s hi-tech industries, and the participation of the leading Chinese and international brands due to the cooperation between Uniris and Messe Frankfurt, we are highly confident the fair will be a great success in 2021.”

Formnext+ will now take place at the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center in 2021. Image via Huawei.
Formnext+ will now take place at the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center in 2021. Image via Huawei.

Medical updates from Total-Corbion and Medtronic 

In medical news, 3D materials manufacturer Total-Corbion has gifted more than a metric ton of PLA Luminy printing materials made from renewable sugar cane to artist Ioan Florea. Using the polymers, thousands of 3D printed face shields have been created and donated to hospitals in Chicago, Illinois, and New York, to help fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve large scale 3D printers were used to print the full-frame, closed top face shields, with the entire process taking place in the artist’s studio.

“We are energized by the efforts taken by many around the globe to fight the coronavirus,” said François de Bie, Senior Marketing Director at Total Corbion PLA. “With our small donation of Luminy PLA, we are proud to be part of this bigger initiative to help save lives.”

Elsewhere in additive medicine, Global medical technology company Medtronic has announced that it intends to acquire French spinal surgery technology company Medicrea via an all-cash tender offer. Reportedly, the company believes the addition of Medicrea’s AI-driven surgical planning tools and 3D-printed personalized spinal implants, will bolster its position in the spinal surgery sector. 

Although Medtronic is facing a drop in sales due to deferred elective procedures in recent months, CEO Geoff Martha has indicated the company won’t abandon its intent to do more deals. For instance, Medtronic has already agreed to acquire surgical tools company Digital Surgery, as well as forming a licensing and development agreement with robotics developer Titan Medical. Seeking to be opportunistic while asset prices are down, the company is expecting to close its latest deal by the end of the year, with a strong return on investment predicted by 2023.

Studio Eric Klarenbeek and Swarovski 3D print ‘ice sculptures’

The Dutch self-styled “designers of the unusual” Studio Klarenbeek, has formed a surprising partnership with global jewelry brand Swarovski. Together, the companies have used 3D printing to create a series of home objects that they refer to as ‘The Reorient: Arctic collection.’ Created by design duo Maartje Dros and Eric Klarenbeek, the vases are inspired by the reduction of the polar ice caps in the Arctic. Nonetheless, the products may well give a sinking feeling to potential buyers when they find out that the pieces start at an eye-watering €1,295.

Swarovski's 3D printed vases (pictured) have been modelled on the Arctic's melting polar ice caps. Photo via Swarovski.
Swarovski’s 3D printed vases (pictured) have been modeled on the Arctic’s melting polar ice caps. Photo via Swarovski.

Additive Flow issues beta invite for 3D printing software

Finishing with 3D printing software this week, UK-based optimization software developer Additive Flow is inviting applications for inclusion in a beta test for its FormFlow multi-functional optimization program. The company has developed a flexible set of digital tools that considers a material’s properties and geometry simultaneously, and places materials, according to the specific hardware system or production constraints. 

Following one-on-one consultations with the Additive Flow or 3DGBIRE, participants will be selected based on how many of the program’s features they will utilize during the beta. Successful applicants will receive free access to a live streaming version of FormFlow for an agreed period of time.  

“Put simply, FormFlow puts the right material, with the right properties, in the right place,  and optimizes part geometry and material properties simultaneously with multi-physics algorithms,” explained Alexander Pluke, CEO of Additive Flow. “Subsequently FormFlow allows users to simultaneously view productivity, cost, and performance outcomes of different design/production recommendations.”

“We are excited to extend this invitation to designers and engineers from across the supply chain to trial our FormFlow software,” he added. “While the software is ideally suited to AM applications, we would welcome applications from AM and non-AM designs alike.”

The nominations for the 2020 3D Printing Industry Awards are now open. Who do you think should make the shortlists for this year’s show? Have your say now. 

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Featured image shows the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center, which will host Formnext+ in 2021. Image via Huawei, who helped construct the facility.