I spoke with BCN3D’s Dave Martinez to find out the latest from the Spanish 3D printer manufacturer.
The company is one that’s on the move. While only a few years ago they would have been seen as “just another small 3D printer manufacturer”, that’s all changed now. The company has developed multiple new devices, made a major acquisition, announced a metal 3D printing option, launched a powerful slicing system, offered a comprehensive cloud system, received a major investment, and is set to move more deeply into the manufacturing market in coming years. They’re now at 120 people, with around 100 in Barcelona at their headquarters.
Their centralized workforce and tendency for local production helped them overcome some of the supply chain challenges facing manufacturers. Apparently some 90% of their parts are locally produced.
“We are still growing as a startup, and continuing to innovate. We’ve received requirements from automotive companies in Spain, France, and Germany in the last four months.”
But while that’s how they operate inside the company, it’s clear outside they are making moves in different industries.
Their recent announcement of a metal 3D printing option using the BASF filaments might be expanded, as Martinez explained:
“It’s currently available on the the Epsilon Series W, but in the next month we will study if we can enlarge this portfolio. In Spain four customers in the aerospace sector need or want to include this type of filament.”
The metal option is a bit of a switch for BCN3D, whose previous devices produced end-use parts directly off the machine. The metal workflow is a bit different, as it requires a debinding and sintering step to convert the green part to a brown part, and finally a finished, fully metal part. The problem is that many of their customers don’t necessarily have the equipment to do those steps in house.
Martinez explained that BCN3D has a solution:
“Customers need a sintering process to convert green/brown parts and obtain the final piece.
When our worldwide distributors want to provide a sintering process for clients, we calculate the time to print and sinter as two weeks. We provide partners to do this in 70 countries worldwide. Our distributors have contacts for many sintering partners.”
Why the need for 3D printing metal parts? Martinez explained the reasons for this new capability:
“The cost is cheaper than other metal processes, but only for small parts. For metal prints, the Epsilon W50 printer has a limited build volume, double the size of your hand is maximum. But many companies need small parts, especially made from qualified material from BASF. We are not really competing with EOS and the other major metal 3D printer manufacturers.”
Is there a step to take beyond small metal parts? That could be, as Martinez hinted they might be looking at other metal approaches or even ceramics.
BCN3D has made a number of interesting strategic moves in the past year, and it seems they have a few more brewing.