NinjaTek is up to something, but we’re not allowed to tell you about it.
The company is well-known for producing a range of high-quality flexible 3D printer filaments. Today their site boasts of six material types, all available in a variety of colors.
As we trolled around Formnext last week, we came upon their stand, which was not surprising: many material providers were exhibiting at the show, the world’s largest.
Curiously, their display included a truly massive 3D printer, imaged at top. It had to have one of the most interesting paint jobs I’ve seen on any device, and I was quite interested to find out what they were doing with this machine.
Unfortunately, company representatives refused to speak with us about it. They said they were “allowed to speak to the press only about existing products”.
Even though they were publicly displaying what appeared to be a massive and mysterious industrial 3D printer. We took a number of images of the machine, but could not find out ANYTHING about it from NinjaTek. I have a suspicion they were indeed discussing it with non-press attendees, and our team was extremely unhappy with their response.
Normally in such rare cases where a company refuses to speak with us we simply don’t run a story. However, NinjaTek’s behavior was so outrageous we’re going to write one anyway.
As you might imagine, there’s going to be a very high ratio of speculation, because NinjaTek refused to provide us with anything.
What do we know? Here’s the facts as we observed.
- The machine in question seems to be called the Platypus
- It has a cool urban enclosure design
- The machine has a multi-axis motion system (e.g. more than three axes)
- It can print in a non-planar fashion (see image above)
- There is an enormous color touch screen
- The control panel has a traditional red “emergency stop” button found on industrial equipment
- A label pasted on the Platypus talks about an unnamed “Breakthrough TPE” that is heat resistant, strong and “reusable again and again”
- An image of the “breakthrough TPE” shows both a filament spool and a canister of pellets
- The label also mentions “smart software” that apparently uses AI to achieve best quality prints
Well, that’s about all we can say with any certainty. It’s what we saw with our own eyes.
What does all this mean? That’s where it would have been appropriate for NinjaTek to explain. Without their explanation, we can only speculate. Here’s my thoughts:
Could NinjaTek, a company that makes flexible materials, suddenly produce a large industrial 3D printer? That seems like quite a leap for the company, although perhaps they have partnered with someone else for this? We saw no other product or company names.
Perhaps they are about to introduce a new product line targeting industrial equipment, which could be far more profitable for the company? That might explain the presence of the Platypus, as it shows an affinity between the company and industrial 3D printing. The urban design, however, doesn’t connect with that market.
Could the Platypus be merely a sensational device to attract visitors to their booth? This is not unheard of, as often we see “spectacular” arrangements to do so.
Perhaps NinjaTek’s “breakthrough TPE” is the new product? Its key feature would appear to be that it’s infinitely reusable. But how is this done? Do they have a machine to chop it up and remake it into pellets or filament? Or do they have some kind of recycling program where scraps are sent in for recycling? Or can this be done in the Platypus itself? We just don’t know.
It’s puzzling to me why a company would go to the effort and expense of displaying “something” and not tell the press about it. Isn’t the purpose of their presence at the show to get publicity?
Well, they got some from us, but I’m not sure if it’s what they intended.