Prodways Group announced they have recently sold a number of their SLS 3D printers to not one, but three big chemical companies.
The French-based manufacturer of industrial 3D printers said chemical giant BASF had acquired four systems, for “manufacturing and R&D applications”.
Similarly, Royal DSM acquired two Prodways ProMaker P2000 ST 3D printers. Finally, Prodways also sold a unit to a “leading French chemical company” that seems to be requiring anonymity.
What to make of this?
Chemical Companies Working in 3D Printing
BASF has long been a player in the 3D printing industry, having appeared a few years ago when few other chemical companies took any interest in the field. They seem to have made partnerships with almost anyone who asks to provide materials, joint research and more. Is this just another step in their 3D printing journey?
I think it’s a big one. Four large systems is notable, particularly because Prodways systems are large themselves. There is no doubt they will be using the devices to experiment with a variety of new and exotic SLS materials. Perhaps these are targeted at Prodways customers, but I suspect they would also be developed for use by SLS systems from other manufacturers — that’s why BASF bought the 3D printers rather than simply partnering with Prodways.
BASF has a vast catalog of plastic materials developed over decades, with materials designed for many different types of applications. They need to unleash more of them to the world of 3D printing, which at the moment is somewhat constrained by the lack of material choice as compared to traditional manufacturing.
Prodways Group did not specify the purpose for the machines purchased by Royal DSM and the unnamed French chemical company, but it’s very likely for the same purposes as BASF: developing and deploying new materials for 3D printing.
Exotic 3D Printing Materials Coming
Is this good news? I think so. Anything that can make it possible for more interesting materials to be made available for 3D printing is a positive step.
And in this case, it’s also good for Prodways Group’s sales numbers.