Keyence took a big step towards worldwide sales recently by launching their product outside of Japan.
The Osaka-based company has been selling high-end 3D printers in Japan since 2011, but since this past September they’ve been marketing in Germany as well. We suspect this is a first step on a gradual program to eventually sell their products worldwide.
Keyence is a large company that makes sensors and laser marking equipment. But then it got interesting: apparently the company had been using 3D printing gear to help create their traditional products, but then realized that they produce some of the components required to build 3D printers. This realization, plus an opening when the SLA patents expired, provided an opportunity for Keyence to enter the 3D printing market by producing a resin-based 3D printer: the Agilista.
The €40,000 (USD$50,000) Agilista is a resin-based 3D printer, similar to Stratasys’ Connex line of 3D printers: they both use inkjet-like heads to deposit resin with high accuracy. The Agilista is capable of 0.015mm layers within its 297 x 210 x 200mm build volume.
The most interesting feature we noticed was the support material: it’s water soluble. This is quite different from Stratasys’ standard support material, which is not soluble. In the case of Stratasys, you must mechanically remove the support material, typically with a waterjet, unless you have very fine structures, in which case you’re doing it by hand. With the Agilista’s water soluble approach, you can simply drop your print in a pail of water and go for lunch.