On demand manufacturing

INTERVIEW: Formnext start-up challenge winner 2020 – AM-Flow

Continuing with our profiles of the 2020 formnext start-up challenge winners is AM-Flow. Based in The Netherland, the AM-Flow executive team builds on almost two decades of experience in additive manufacturing.

Carlos Zwikker, Chief Commercial Officer, gave me more information about the company.

3DPI: When was your company founded and where are operations based?

CZ: AM-Flow as created in 2018 and is headquartered in The Netherlands, in Amsterdam, where we focus on software development, machine learning and AI, and Brainport Eindhoven, where we focus on vision, motion and robotics, and where our showroom is located. 

3DPI: Can you tell us more about your team’s background and experience with AM?

CZ: Our co-founder and CEO is Stefan Rink. As former VP Manufacturing of Shapeways and an expert in Lean Six Sigma and QRM, Stefan tripled global throughput with the same resources by optimising the company’s production processes.  Stefan is convinced that in addition to great teamwork, further automation and robotization are required to make the next step change in the AM industry, enabling high mix AND high volume at the same time. Stefan has 25 years of experience in the building, metal, IT, solar and 3D printing industries, both in executive and partner roles.

AM-Flow’s other co-founders are Jochem van der Spek, Director R&D and Gideon May, CTO, as well as Bas van Berkestijn and Alewijn Medendorp. Along with our CFO, Pieter Dekkers, I also form part of the management team and, like Stefan, come from a Shapeways background, where I was part of the Philips corporate venture management team responsible for Shapeways prior to its spin-off, as well as supporting start-ups and scale-ups in various roles, I subsequently became interim Chief Commercial Officer at Shapeways in 2017 and I now hold the same position at AM-Flow. 

Between us, our CEO and I collectively possess over 20 years of experience in additive manufacturing. 

3DPI: What does your company do?

CZ: In a nutshell, AM-Flow provides advanced manufacturing solutions that drive the digitalisation and automation of AM post-production processes. Our objective – via our technology proposition – is to reduce the costly, labour-intensive aspect of post-processing within the 3D printing workflow, thereby delivering the missing link for manufacturers and service bureaus to scale-up volume within AM production.

By automating post-production processes, AM-Flow enables manufacturers to realise their ambitions to drive Industry 4.0 production in high-volume multi-printer environments, while also delivering a full track-and-trace solution.

3DPI: How does your company fit into the additive manufacturing ecosystem?

CZ: Our modular solutions portfolio enables manufactures and service bureaus to deploy a fully digitalised, automated and Industry 4.0-driven 3D printing process. 

The beating heart of the AM-Flow solutions ‘stack’ is AM-VISION, which uses 3D shape recognition to enable rapid and reliable identification of 3D printed parts based on their geometry. Once these parts are identified, they can be sorted (using AM-SORT), handled and picked with state-of-art gripper technology (AM-PICK) and transported via the use of fully-autonomous cobots (AM-ROUTE). This digital manufacturing solution connects via our 

AM-LOGIC software with leading mainstream ERP/MES systems, enabling full tracking and tracing of parts throughout the factory floor.

3DPI:How would you describe the roadmap for your enterprise in the coming years?

CZ: We are looking to create the full AM end-to-end automated production line, i.e. automate all steps after the printer. We are still quite a long way away from a ‘lights out’ factory but that is definitely the point in the future we are aiming for.

3DPI: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

CZ: We’ll be introducing AM-BAGGING at Formnext Connect, a module that provides fully automated bagging and labelling capabilities to AM environments. The new solution perfectly bridges between AM-PICK and AM-ROUTE and exemplifies our continued quest to provide a full ‘end-to-end’ post-processing solution to manufacturers and service bureaus.

We also support AM production facilities with our AM-EXPERT consultancy, helping companies towards a Six Sigma reality in their AM production facility. It’s clear to us that we have to design this future together with our peers for AM to be considered the manufacturing technology of the future.

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