The deal, signed at Prismlab’s Shanghai base, will see some of its 3D printing photopolymer products integrated into Forward AM’s Ultracur3D photopolymer portfolio. Closer cooperation with Prismlab not only strengthens Forward AM’s position within Asian markets, but also enables it to drive its large-scale 3D printing solutions around the world, within a range of industries.
“Through adding selected photopolymer products from Prismlab to our portfolio, we are broadening our product offering to the rapidly developing Asian market. We are convinced that this partnership strengthens our market position, especially in the orthodontic industry, and will enable us to engage deeper with downstream customers,” said François Minec, Managing Director at BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH.
“We are currently setting up local production, logistics and technical services in Asia to reinforce our presence in the region.”
Forward AM’s continued 3D printing investments
Originally established in 2017 as BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH (B3DPS), BASF’s subsidiary Forward AM, focuses on establishing and expanding the company’s 3D printing business within materials, systems, components and services. As a result, BASF has acquired a number of 3D printing companies, and established a series of partnerships, in order to extend its portfolio of materials.
It wasn’t long before Forward AM began to rapidly expand, and in August 2017, BASF acquired Dutch filament maker Innofil3D, a company whose range included PLA, PET, ABS and InnoCircle resins. This was followed by the acquisitions of Solvay’s global polyamide business, and material companies Advanc3D Materials and Setup Performance, which were later merged into BASF’s portfolio of printing materials companies.
Forward AM has also collaborated with a number of AM businesses during that time, in order to develop both new and enhanced 3D printing materials. In October 2019 for instance, the company worked with Texas-based 3D printer provider Essentium to develop a new line of “Ultrafuse” filaments as well as establishing a global distribution network. Other deals followed, including partnerships with AM startup Origin, which expanded Forward AM’s service offering, and a strategic investment made in Prismlab in November 2018.
Founded in 2005, Prismlab is the patent holder of “Pixel Resolution Enhanced Technology” or “MFP.” Based on SLA, Primslab’s patented technology is designed to 3D print large components at a high resolution, and it’s integrated into the company’s own range of 3D printers. Following the deal with BASF in 2018, which saw the latter continue to extend its product range, the businesses are now working together more closely, in order to extend the reach of their respective products.
The new distribution deal with Prismlab
Forward AM’s latest agreement with Prismlab fits the company’s strategy of offering a comprehensive portfolio comprising all major technologies available in the 3D printing market. Now the BASF subsidiary will offer a selection of Prismlab’s thermoplastics as part of its Ultracur3D range, and in return, Prismlab will distribute Ultracur3D materials alongside its own 3D printers in Asian markets. Moving forwards, Prismlab will also gradually become a global distributor of Forward AM’s high performance plastics, under the rebranded portfolio of “Ultracur3D for Prismlab.”
Forward AM’s current Ultracur3D portfolio includes a wide range of materials which are suited to a variety of applications. For instance, the company provides photopolymers that are compatible with Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), jetting and extrusion-based 3D printing techniques. Moreover, these polymers are made to offer different qualities such as enhanced rigidity or low viscosity, which can be customised depending on their application. Now a line of Prismlabs’ materials will also feature within the Ultracur3D range, extending Forward AM’s offering to its customers.
In addition to building on the companies’ distribution arrangements, the deal will also allow the firms to develop new joint applications of their technologies, such as prototyping and materials with enhanced features. “It [the agreement] enables us to further explore and enhance innovative applications, including functional prototyping requiring tailor-made material solutions with improved toughness, heat resistance and long-term stability,” explained Hou Feng, Founder and Chairman of Prismlab.
Combining Forward AM’s unique chemicals expertise and industry access with Prismlab’s innovative 3D printers and production expertise, is seen as mutually beneficial by both companies. According to the 3D printing firms, the deal also reaffirms their joint commitment to providing customers with “best-in-class” industrialized Additive Manufacturing solutions, and consolidates both partners’ reach in a range of industries and markets.
“With this deepened collaboration, we will be able to leverage synergies with BASF in the 3D printing industry. The partnership with Forward AM complements our current material offering. At the same time, we can better address the needs of our customers and partners, for example in the footwear and dental industry”, added Feng.
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Featured image shows a range of 3D printed models produced using Prismlab’s AM materials. Photo via Prismlab.