Germany’s FIT AG has opened what is said to be the world’s largest facility for 3D metal printing.
FIT AG is a prototyping and additive manufacturing service founded in 1995, now having expanded to 250 staff. It’s not a small operation by any measure.
In 2014 the company announced it was constructing a new additive manufacturing center. Evidently this project cost €20M (USD$22M) and a few years to build. This month the center opened for use.
The center includes what they say is “the highest capacity for the additive manufacturing of metal parts in the world” and there is also an entire floor dedicated to plastic 3D printing as well.
The company serves all industries, but focuses on automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering and medical technology, as those are the busiest in 3D printing in recent years. They are also quite profitable markets, making it financially feasible to support a large 3D metal printing operation.
I see this announcement as a trend that will most certainly continue: the rapid expansion of 3D metal printing.
Prototypes are fine, but the much larger market is production. While plastic 3D printing has been extensively used for prototypes, it has been challenging to find production applications. The reasons for this are no doubt related to the current restrictions on the types of plastics usable in 3D printers, as well as the generally lower cost of plastic parts in the market.
These facts are not true for metal 3D prints: near-pure metal 3D prints are often functionally indistinguishable from traditional metal parts. And they often carry a much higher unit price.
Both of these factors suggest there’s a lot of money to be made by doing 3D metal printing production. And that’s exactly what FIT AG is doing here.
Via FIT AG