Home Materials Resin Manufacturer Liqcreate Shares Insights into AM Resin Development – Interview with...

Resin Manufacturer Liqcreate Shares Insights into AM Resin Development – Interview with Ruben Bosch

Dutch photopolymer manufacturer Liqcreate specialises in the development and production of high quality resins for SLA, DLP as well as MSLA and LCD technologies in the range of 385 to 420 nm. Their existing portfolio features a diverse range of resins catering to a wide variety of industries, including industrial engineering, automotive, dental, jewellery and functional prototyping. In an interview with 3Druck.com, Sales and Marketing Executive Ruben Bosch shares his insight into the industry for 3D printing materials.

In addition to its own high quality resin portfolio, Liqcreate offers a solution for companies to re-brand its products into any shape. While this could be a turn-key solution that involves simply attaching a different brand label on a Liqcreate product, the company also offers photopolymers in bulk volumes. Besides their existing range of resins, exclusive resins are reserved for OEM/White Label purposes, accessible for customers prepared to handle significant volume sales.

Additionally the manufacturer offers the opportunity to develop customised resins for specific applications. Customers can request adjustments on the properties of a resin such as printing speed, colour or mechanical properties including higher tensile modules or strength. This ultimately results in a resin that is ideally suited for an application or runs smoothly on a specific platform used by the customer.

As an independent manufacturer with sales, R&D and manufacturing facilities, Liqcreate is able to rapidly scale production where needed, resulting in the ability to offer small batch sizes to get customers started, lowering their investment risks and costs.

Interview with Ruben Bosch

In an interview with 3Druck.com, Ruben Bosch, Sales and Marketing Executive at Liqcreate, shares his insight into the industry and comments on the development of the 3D printing material market.

In your opinion, what significance does the development of materials have for the additive manufacturing industry?

Ruben Bosch, Image: Liqcreate

The additive manufacturing industry will further evolve to become future proof with the development of new materials. Developing new materials for additive manufacturing (AM) helps to further reduce the upfront investments costs in specific industries, enabling industries to support a broader product portfolio and offer low volume production. Due to low volume production a decrease in risk is established and new products can be more cost-effective.

Producing new products can be challenging for companies when low volumes are required.  High upfront costs are often the bottle neck for bringing a new/modified product to the market. AM can reduce these risks with the development of materials which have similar or better properties compared to the material that would have been used in a conventional setting. This development will create new market spaces for a broader audience which are in need for low volume manufacturing. Allowing the AM industry to tap into a new type of customer that can be served without imposing extreme high minimum order quantities or demanding a higher product margin for their product. Producing a new/modified product becomes less risky and more flexible when material development continues.

Beside those benefits new 3D printing materials can offer a reduction in inventory on hand, enables more diverse products and increase the test and design speed to production cycles. In short, new materials increase the flexibility and dynamics of implementing low volume manufacturing strategies, which can create a competitive advantage over conventional manufacturing and creates the opportunity to further tap into a new type of customer.

Additive manufacturing has continuously developed in recent years. Which innovations or technological breakthroughs do you consider to be particularly important in terms of materials?

Within the photopolymer resin market there were a lot of important developments in the fields of availability & compatibility, quality & price and unique properties. 

Availability and compatibility has improved significantly over the past years. In the first 20 years of the AM industry a select group of companies offered SLA and DLP materials just for one system. With the expiration of patents and the availability of a large amount of open SLA, DLP and LCD-based platforms, material development towards these platforms also increased. Nowadays there is a large amount of resins available for almost any printer.

This availability and competition lead to an increase in the quality & price of the materials available, mainly for these open platforms. Furthermore the availability of unique material properties like ESD or flame retardant properties are a recent development for electronics, automotive, engineering and consumer goods applications. These properties were before only available as specialty granulates for injection molding or in FDM and can now also be printed in photopolymer resin. We see this trend moving forward were developments in tougher materials and UV stable photopolymers are the new frontier.

First Corona and the now high inflation pose major challenges for the entire industry. In your opinion, how do the multiple crises affect the additive manufacturing industry?

Challenges make us better in how we position our company and we see challenges as measurement points on how resilient we currently are. In addition, it tests our ability to think/act creatively and transform these challenges into opportunities. With Covid we saw the opportunity to continue the path of creating high-end engineering materials like Flexible-X and Tough-X. As the world was limited in purchasing goods from Asian countries due to Covid and later on all over the world, companies started to search for alternatives to create spare parts and other components. With the introduction of these new engineering materials we enabled companies to create their own functional (spare) parts which allowed them to continue their business. 

As Covid slowly shifted toward the background we continued to develop high-end engineering materials like Composite-X, ESD & Flame Retardant HDT. These are the key engineering resins which help the industry to re-shore production back to the western countries and manufacture parts in-house. Overall I believe these challenging times help to increase the AM industry and keeping the industry healthy.

What impact do you think additive manufacturing will have on various industries and possibly society as a whole in the coming years?

The integration of additive manufacturing into organisations will continue to increase for the coming years. This integration will be seen in the production operations to mitigate supply chain risks, reduce costs and create a competitive advantage in design and flexibility. Adopting 3D printing into an operational workflow will transform the way of thinking about fabrication and concepts. You can see this in the adoption of AM with new application in the industrial and healthcare industries already (footwear, dental and wearables). Eventually companies can offer more customised products which will ultimately serves our society with unique products and designs.  

Here you can find out more about Liqcreate and their products.

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