Sinterit announced a partnership with Forward AM, the AM unit of BASF.
BASF is the largest chemical producer on the planet, with annual revenues exceeding €60B (US$68B). In the past few years the company has taken a very strong interest in additive manufacturing, and has partnered with countless players in the 3D space. So much activity was underway that BASF spun it out under the Forward AM banner. Forward AM now provides a wide variety of AM services, ranging from consulting, design, printing and materials development.
Now they are partnering with Sinterit.
Sinterit is a growing Polish manufacturer of SLS-style 3D printers. They launched with a breakthrough device, the LISA, which offered SLS 3D printing at an unheard-of low cost, and still do so today. Since then the company has bolstered the materials for the system, and most recently introduced a scaled-up system for industrial use, the NILS 480.
“Sinterit announced a partnership with Forward AM, the brand of BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, to jointly develop the compact SLS segment and industrial applications.”
“The cooperation between companies is dedicated to jointly developing the compact SLS segment with related materials and hardware, as well as industrial applications.”
In practice, what does this actually mean?
My suspicion is that Sinterit intends on dramatically broadening the materials available for both their compact and industrial equipment. Currently they offer seven choices:
- Standard prototyping: PA12 Smooth
- Performance: PA11 Onyx, PA11 Carbon Fiber
- Speciality: PA11 ESD, PP
- Flexible: FLEXA
While it’s entirely possible to use third party powders in Sinterit SLS equipment, that’s not always desirable from an operator point of view. Many companies insist on using very specific materials from particular providers in order to ensure consistency, quality or certifications. A machine not offering those materials is likely not going to be purchased by those organizations.
With Sinterit’s recent introduction of the industrially-targeted NILS 480 machine, they are likely running into this issue. Production parts typically require very specific materials and those had better be available on the Sinterit equipment.
Sinterit could develop those powders on their own, but that would be unnecessarily burdensome, as they can simply partner with a company already doing that work — and in this case, it’s Forward AM / BASF.
BASF has countless materials in their catalog, and has been working with multiple 3D printer companies to bring them to the additive market. Some 3D printer manufacturers have signed exclusive deals for specific materials, while others just need to get the materials to work on their equipment.
In this case it’s likely the latter, and Sinterit would surely benefit from an expanded materials catalog.
While this move is likely driven by Sinterit’s industrial ventures, the addition of new materials would also strongly benefit their existing and future compact SLS clients. Suddenly these operations would find more materials available, opening the door to more applications.
For Forward AM and BASF, this is yet another avenue for BASF to develop and sell unique materials.
While this is a very good move for BASF, it’s an even better move for Sinterit, which will soon have a much more extensive materials catalog.