Industrial-Scale 3D Printing Technology

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted January 9, 2013

Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, has been hailed as a technology with the ability to bring manufacturing back to America.

Unlike subtractive manufacturing, where an object is carved from the material, or casting, where an object is formed in a mold, 3D printing slowly “prints” the object, adding layer upon layer of material until the finished product is complete.

The technology is finally being perfected and gaining popularity. You can now find 3D printing stores in New York City or 3D printing photo booths in Japan.

Medical prosthetics are being 3D printed, as are phone cases, art, and car parts.

One company is working on printing human tissue to be used in drug tests and trials.

The printers themselves are even becoming more affordable for the average do-it-yourselfer, with some printers going for as little as $500 – and dropping.

Soon enough they’ll become as much a household product as regular ink printers.

But these printers can have huge benefits on an industrial scale as well. 3D printing provides quick, customizable manufacturing that can be ideal for organizations like NASA, oil and gas companies, or even furniture companies.

The ExOne Company, an international company that both sells 3D printers and prints 3D objects for customers, deals on this industrial scale.

ExOne PrinterExOne specializes in 3D printing with sand, metal, and glass. It has six different ExOne Systems that can perform large-scale manufacturing, including the M-Flex that specializes in metal printing and the Orion Laser, which uses a short-pulse laser to create precision holes or cylindrical shapes in a product.

The company provides services to industrial fields like the aerospace industry, oil and gas services, automotive companies, and biomedical fields, as well as the art and design industry.

It offers education and training on its products in affiliation with labs and universities, and each product, which comes with a one-year warranty, receives routine maintenance and replacement parts.

ExOne began as a nontraditional machining company called Extrude Hone Corporation, incorporating three-dimensional printing technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996.

In 1999, the company began working in the sand printing industry in collaboration with a German startup. Six years later, in 2005, the ExOne Company spun off to become its own 3D printing company.

From the company website:

We collaborate with our clients through the entire development and production process so that they are able to “materialize” new concepts – designs, prototypes, and production parts – precisely when needed. Production scale is irrelevant and lot quantities of one are just as efficient as lot quantities of one thousand. We offer both the services and the equipment to enable point-of-use manufacturing using additive manufacturing processes.

Yesterday ExOne announced it had filed for initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The initial filing took place in private on November 13 under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

The IPO date is still unknown, but the company plans to raise around $75 million and file on the Nasdaq under the symbol “XONE”.

The company is headquartered in North Huntingdon, PA, but branches are also located in Troy, MI and Houston, TX, with international locations in Augsburg, Germany and Odawara-shi, Japan.

3D printing companies have already become great market performers, and they will continue to do well into 2013 as they become cost-competitive and more widescale.

ExOne’s IPO should be no exception, as the company’s industrial-scale operations set it apart from other major companies in the industry.

And its unique use of more difficult materials like metal, sand, and glass rather than just plastic are sure to give it a boost.

That’s all for now,

Brianna Panzica

follow basic@brianna_panzica on Twitter

Energy & Capital’s modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends.

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