Prodways, a lesser-known French 3D printing company, has been quietly growing over the past three years.
You often hear news from the big players in industrial 3D printing, such as Stratasys and 3D Systems, the two largest companies in the space, as well as others such as Arcam, EOS, EnvisionTec, VoxelJet and ExOne. But there’s another company that’s been slowly building capabilities that might be mentioned in the same way.
The company is Prodways, which I first encountered three years ago at a trade show. At the time, their flagship product was a unique SLA-style 3D printer with a unique twist: to overcome the pixel limitations of DLP projection, they moved the projector around a liquid resin surface to achieve the rare combination of high resolution AND large volume. Typically high resolution is obtained by focusing the fixed number of DLP pixels on smaller and smaller surface areas. Prodways found a way around that challenge with their “MovingLight” approach, which now appears in no less than nine different models, and one even allows the use of unusual viscous materials.
But since then the company seems to have grown significantly and now offers not only the high resolution resin machine, but also a laser sintering line that uses fine powder as material instead of resin. Currently they offer five models with laser sintering.
But that’s not all; the company also offers a robust parts production service, which, of course, uses their 3D printing equipment. This is a way for customers to make use of their equipment without having to fund the purchase of a machine themselves. The pricing of Prodways equipment is substantial, in the several hundreds of thousands of USD$ range, plus the costs of installation and ongoing operation.
Their latest machine is the ProMaker P2000 HT, with the “HT” meaning “High Temperature”. This machine can have a precisely-controlled, internal build chamber temperature of 220C, enabling the possibility of laser sintering high performance materials. Temperature is controlled by eight separate heat zones that are “intelligently” controlled.
Prodways encourages the use of “open” materials and does not insist on customers purchasing only their in-house material options, which, by the way, are reasonably extensive. This policy along with the new HT machine should enable some to explore very unusual material approaches.