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Three innovative 3D printing companies to follow at Formnext 2023

Updated: Feb 21



The Formnext 2023 show is approaching with a record number of over 700 exhibitors participating, presenting the latest developments in Additive Manufacturing solutions. From small startups to leading companies, the entire AM ecosystem will be covered with new and innovative 3D software, 3D printing systems, post-processing, materials, and quality assurance solutions.


Similar to previous years, much attention will focus on companies that will present unique solutions that many visitors are still not aware of. Here are three companies to pay attention to:


BLT – Bright Laser Technologies

HALL 11, BOOTH E-11

Established in July 2011, BLT is a Chinese-based additive manufacturing (AM) company specializing in offering comprehensive turnkey solutions for metal additive manufacturing. The company's approach involves providing users with a complete AM ecosystem that includes dedicated 3D software tools, metal 3D printers and powders, backed up with professional printing and consulting services. It’s Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) technology aims to provide industrial users the ability to seamlessly integrate AM in their design and manufacturing processes.

Gary Ding, BLT’s CEO Europe; BLT’s HQ in Xi’an, China. Images source - BLT Ltd.


What makes BLT attractive?

Firstly, while traditional market leaders have been struggling in the past two years, BLT has become a dominant force that no one can ignore – It has delivered thousands of Metal AM systems to end-users across various industries, operates the world's largest service center with over 360+ working systems, and employs more than 1,800 people. Furthermore, as of Dec. 31, 2022, the company is traded on the Chinese stock exchange with a market capitalization of $2.5 billion, which currently surpasses the combined market cap of Stratasys and 3D Systems!


Secondly, it’s wide solutions portfolio was designed to target the following four specific industries – Aerospace, Aviation, Automotive, Medical, and for producing large Engines and Molds. Thus, for each industry and application, a dedicated ECO-System was designed to answer its specific needs that includes software tools, and 3D printing systems and materials with suitable specs. Having an intimate understanding of each industry's needs and the ways AM can be integrated to produce end-use parts is a significant advantage over competitors in the market.

From left to right: large-scale Titanium Intermediate Compressor Case; Series production of heating nozzles. Images source - BLT Ltd.


Thirdly, BLT’s outlook looks promising as it continues to rapidly grow its business. By the end of 2023, it is expected that the company's revenue will fall within the range of $180 million to $200 million, showcasing a remarkable 53% growth compared to the previous year. Given that the majority of its revenue was generated in China, the company is in the process of accelerating its global expansion. Thus, the growth potential for the company for the next 3-5 years looks great.


Earlier this year, the company launched BLT Europe - its European subsidiary located in Hofheim, Frankfurt, Germany, that includes a showroom to present the company’s solutions. The new entity is in the process of building its local team of sales, marketing and technical professionals, that will support overseas activities.


ValCUN

HALL 12, BOOTH E-32

Founded by Dr. ir. Jonas Galle and Dr. ir. Jan De Pauw, ValCUN is a Belgium-based metal AM company that has developed a technology called Molten Metal Deposition (MMD). This wire-based technology focuses on the printing of Aluminum parts, which is a challenging material to handle and enables the use of alloys from the 6XXX series and 7XXX series, currently considered as non-weldable/printable alloys but highly desired by the industry.


This process is both sustainable and environmentally friendly, with no involvement of powder, toxic chemicals nor need for a modified installation environment.

ValCUN’s team members (from left to right): Jan De Pauw (CTO), Jonas Galle (CEO), Chola Elangeswaran, Mohsen Saadatmand, Joon Broeckaert. Image source - ValCUN.


At Formnext 2023, the company will introduce its flagship product for the first time - the Minerva 3D printer. It can print with different types of Aluminum materials: AI 4008, and AI 4043. AI 6061 and AI 6082 will be release soon, Al 7075 is expected at the end of next year. The Minerva 3D printer is an open platform that offers the possibility of setting and monitoring parameters and using other wire-based materials.


What makes ValCUN attractive?

The company's Aluminum 3D printing technology is addressing the overlap between three different metal manufacturing methods: Metal CNC, Metal Casting, and Metal AM. The company claims to easily reduce the overall part production by 75 to 90% compared to other metal AM technologies, unlocking the capability of short-run, serial production. This technology will enable manufacturers to explore new applications that leverage the advantages of Additive Manufacturing.

The Minerva 3D printer and an Aluminum part produced by ValCUN, demonstrating some unique features such as high supportless overhangs (>75°) and maze structure. Images source - ValCUN.


A great example of a suitable applications is heat exchangers, manifolds, Near-Net-Shape manufacturing, where a rough (near-net) shape is produced and then refined to its final (net) shape. By utilizing the company's technology instead of or in combination of CNC machining, manufacturers will be able to reduce waste and material usage, while also producing parts that were previously not economically or technically feasible.


AM Efficiency

HALL 12.1, BOOTH A-19

Ulf Qviberg, Founder of AM Printservice and AM Efficiency. Image source - AM Efficiency.


AM Efficiency is Swedish-based company that was founded by Ulf Qviberg, a 3D printing veteran who is also the owner of AM Printservice, a leading AM service provider for spare parts and smaller production series. AM Efficiency has developed accessible post-processing solutions suitable for SLS and MJF technologies, offering cleaning, coloring, dye, and polishing solutions for 3D printed parts.


At Formnext 2023, the company will introduce its leading products: the CCP-10 and CCP-2 post-processing systems. These drum-based systems are equipped with a unique patented extraction and separation system. They are eco-friendly and sustainable, using no toxic chemicals. These solutions meet the needs of both prototyping and production, offering users a simple and automated way to streamline their workflow


What makes AM Efficiency attractive?

The company is aiming to bring the cost barrier down for powder-based desktop users, offering a cost-effective solution for the different steps of finishing the parts. As a result, signifyingly shorten the return on investment on such solutions, that until today are perceived as expensive.

Printed with Stratasys H350 SAF technology, post-processed by AM Efficiency. Image source - AM Efficiency.


Another great advantage is the company’s ‘3 in 1 machine’ approach that eliminate the need for separate units to cover the different step of post-processing 3D-printed parts. By switching to from one mode to another, the user can operate the same system for different proposes. That makes AM Efficiency solutions so efficient!

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