The desktop SLS market is a relatively small sub-section of the 3D printing industry, with competitors including Sinterit, Formlabs, and Sintratec. While these SLS systems have comparable footprints to desktop FDM systems, pricing is substantially higher.
Launched in 2019, the Wematter Gravity SLS 3D printer can be bought for $60,000. Compared to larger SLS systems, these prices can be described as affordable. For example, Sintratec’s S3 costs $40,000, and the Formlabs Fuse 1+ is $28,000.
Why choose desktop SLS 3D printing?
Aside from the size of industrial SLS systems from companies like EOS and voxeljet, 3D printing with powder is not a task many would attempt in an office environment. Size and convenience are where the value proposition of Wematter comes in. Gravity is a closed system intended to function in spaces such as an office. Potential customers might be any company that wants a 3D printer readily accessible by a design or engineering team.
3D Systems CEO Dr. Graves believes, “[Wematter’s] SLS solution .. is unmatched in the industry [and] allows the technology to be used in environments where it would previously have been deemed impossible.”
Specifically, the Wematter Gravity 3D printer is 0.7 m x 0.7 m x 1.5 m and has a build volume of 300 mm x 300 mm x 300 mm. The systems available are the Gravity Essential, Gravity Essential+, and Gravity Enterprise.
Other companies have targeted this niche before. For example, the Stratasys design series or Nexa3D’s XiP range of resin 3D printers. The 3D Systems CEO says the strategic purchase of Wematter’s “unique technology” adds to his company’s “solution portfolio” and will enable the “rapid adoption of additive manufacturing in production environments.”
Graves revealed that the seed was planted for today’s news late in 2022 when 3D Systems signed as Wematter’s sole worldwide distributor. “It became increasingly apparent to us how beneficial it would be to have this team and technology as part of our company,” he said.
Wematter Gravity provides a portfolio of twenty materials, and its systems come with the expected connectivity of a system in this price range. For example, cloud-based build monitoring and remote launching of 3D prints. Cloud-based connectivity also facilitates preventive maintenance to optimize uptime and productivity.
Robert Kniola, Founder and CEO of Wematter, said his company is “looking forward to becoming part of 3D Systems.” He expects to benefit from the larger enterprises’ sales network and technical prowess. Bringing the start-up on board may also yield benefits for 3D Systems in terms of innovation, “we’ll benefit from their team’s unique engineering approach and expertise as part of our R&D organization,” said Graves.
Kniola added that Gravity can “accelerate product development and in-house volume production with a click of a button.”
This deal is anticipated to close in July 2023. 3D System’s earnings call scheduled for Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern will provide additional information will be provided.
Featured image shows the Wematter Gravity 2022 Mk II 3D printer. Photo by Michael Petch.