This is not an investment website, but investing is important for innovation and progress in the 3D printing space. (See all our articles on 3D printing investing.) 3D Systems and Stratasys wouldn’t be where they are without investors. Companies that offer quality machines and services can instill confidence in customers and analysts, and investors will buy their stock, giving the companies more capital that can be used for research and development. R&D is the only way to get faster and more versatile printers and materials. Therefore, investing ⇒ better 3D printing.
Arcam understood that when they announced their IPO. As did ExOne, a company putting capital into materials development. A new competitor, voxeljet AG, recently announced their IPO and went public last Friday. The initial public offering priced 6.5 million shares at $13. At the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange, voxeljet (VJET) quickly began trading near $20, and at the end of the day closed at $28.80. That’s an impressive gain. So let’s have a look at what the excitement is about: the printers.
voxeljet printers could arguably more accurately be called automated factories. As the name hints, the printers use a jet technique of depositing a binder onto powder materials. It works with plastics and sand, producing high resolution prototypes, end-use goods, and moulds for metal casting. Sounds pretty run of the mill so far as several companies use the same technology. But voxeljet has something up its sleeve. Due to the ingenious idea of incorporating a conveyor belt into a 3D printer, the VXC800 has continuous printing capabilities.
Who would have guessed how productive printing at a slant could be? A German, apparently. The prints are just retrieved at the back of the machine while it continues to print up front. That’s a factory. And the VXC800 isn’t the only voxeljet that has continuous printing. But the VX4000 does it with sheer size.
4m x 2m x 1m to be exact, and “the size of a room” in layman terms. Half of the build chamber can be processed while the other half is still printing. Such a machine is ideal for affordable small-batch runs. But just look at it; it even looks like a factory.
voxeljet offers a few other, smaller printers as well. Of course they offer production services as well for those that would like to test the quality before buying or don’t want to buy one. Because they plan to expand print services and fund more R&D with the new capital, it’s possible that the big players feel some competitive pressure.