Just yesterday, Davide mentioned Ricoh as one of the many companies that had branched out from their own preliminary markets, in this case imaging and electronics, into the world of 3D printing. The Japanese multinational announced that it had formed a 3D printing division about one year ago, before distributing Leapfrog desktop 3D printers across Europe. Today, Ricoh has unveiled the true goal of their efforts into the space with an industrial-grade selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printer, the RICOH AM S5500P.
The first 3D printer under the RICOH brand will be available for order in Japan on October 30, 2015, before expanding sales across the globe. Designed with Aspect, Inc., the SLS system is capable of 3D printing Polyamide/Nylon (PA211) and Polypropylene (PA12) parts with a robust build volume of 550 mm (W) × 550 mm (D) × 500 mm (H). The AM S550P will be officially unveiled to the public at formnext in Germany next month. It has been made clear that this may be only the first 3D printer from the company, as they continue with Aspect, Inc. to develop new materials and improved functions.
Perhaps due to cost, the SLS race has not taken off at the same speed that the SLA/DLP race did after relevant patents expired. Still, there have been numerous companies that have been looking to stake out their own territory in the space. Though there are at least three or four startups working towards selling low-cost SLS machines – Sharebot, Sintratec, and Sinterit – the newer development to have emerged is that of larger businesses releasing industrial machines. At Euromold, French manufacturer Prodways announced that it joined with Chinese manufacturer Farsoon to release a line of SLS and SLM machines. This occurred just two weeks after Korean company Sentrol had showcased its own SLS and SLM systems.
An added point of interest is the fact that Ricoh is an imaging company, allowing us to compare it to Canon, which had said that it was developing a resin 3D printer – though readers pointed out that 3D Systems’ logo was displayed in the promo video, and HP, who are now official 3D printing players. Perhaps with all of this interest in the technology from those previously not associated with 3D printing, we’ll see the technology improve at an even faster rate.