EnvisionTEC and Covestro announced a collaboration to develop industrial 3D printing solutions.
EnvisionTEC is a long-time maker of professional and industrial 3D printers using a DLP resin process, which was recently acquired by Desktop Metal.
Covestro is a massive German chemical company, with revenues in excess of US$12B. Their product lines include materials for adhesives, coatings, elastomers, films, foams, plastics, polyurethanes, and additive manufacturing.
Like many advanced chemical companies, they have been working with partners in the 3D print industry to advance the technology. Now, Covestro is to work with EnvisionTEC in a similar manner.
But what exactly will they be doing? EnvisionTEC explains:
“Together, the two companies aim to lower the entry barriers for companies looking to adopt 3D printing for producing molds for low volumes or parts with detailed features faster and more economically.”
In practical terms, this means Covestro will work with EnvisionTEC to develop optimal print parameters to allow precision results on EnvisionTEC equipment. This has been done for at least one material thus far, as EnvisionTEC explains:
“The combination of Covestro material expertise and EnvisionTEC printer technology resulted in a complete industrial manufacturing solution for 3D printing injection mold tooling. Until now, no solution was available that met the stringent industry-required properties in terms of dimensional stability and minimal warpage. The patented material formulation from e-PerFORM, optimized for EnvisionTEC’s equipment, brings the benefits of Somos PerFORM to a faster and more economical printer technology.
To bring customers a workable and demonstrated material+printer solution, EnvisionTEC and Covestro optimized print parameters and verified Covestro’s new DLP resin e-PerFORM on EnvisionTEC’s Perfactory P4K series printer.“
EnvisionTEC engaged outside parties to perform tests on the resulting 3D printed parts to ensure they did indeed meet the stringent objectives.
It is likely the two companies may announce further materials as part of this collaboration.
For Covestro this opens up the possibility of selling more materials to EnvisionTEC operators.
For EnvisionTEC this is a way to provide greater confidence to clients and prospects of the ability for the Perfactory equipment to produce outstanding 3D prints. That confidence can lead to increased sales.
There’s something else going on here. As 3D printing technology continues to move into new production environments, the importance of consistent high quality rises significantly. This level of quality is achieved by employing specific combinations of equipment, materials and print parameters without change.
For a long time 3D printers were supplied with materials, but not necessarily the print parameters. This is especially true for materials from third parties, and Covestro would be a third party in this equation.
By engaging with Covestro, EnvisionTEC is creating the quality triangle of machine, material and print profile for a material that might have been “out of bounds” for many clients.
3D printer operators might require many different materials for their applications, but even if they are available to purchase, they are not necessarily usable without proper, tested print profiles. Many 3D printer manufacturers realize this, and have been putting in place sophisticated systems to allow their clients to use a much wider variety of third party materials. However, most of those efforts are for filament materials. It may be that EnvisionTEC is working towards something similar for a resin environment.