Earlier this year, BCN3D Technologies announced that its strive for innovation had led its 3D printing experts to never-before-seen 3D printing technology, using high viscosity resins. Developed over the last three years, the patented Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) provoked mass interest worldwide, with more than 500 companies registering to become early adopters of the development of this ecosystem. BCN3D, in a response to the demand, has partnered with Arkema, and Henkel, to obtain material properties and applications otherwise unreachable with other resin-based technologies, and has committed to delivering 20 VLM printers to 20 of the companies currently enlisted in its Technology Adoption Program, during Spring 2023.
The Technology Adoption Program has been inundated with registrations. Applicants have come around the world, with the United States dominating the majority, followed by Germany and other European countries. BCN3D began rolling out local operations in North America in late 2021, and in April use cases with VLM were publicly presented during the Rapid+TCT show in Detroit, resulting in a peak in the Technology Adoption Program registrations.
The initial premise for this accumulation of early adopters was to orientate the go-to-market through gathering market information across a wide scope of vertical markets. Through this approach, BCN3D was able to see the real needs of customers, especially those within manufacturing, automotive, engineering, dental, prosthetics & orthotics, jewelry, product design, 3D printing services, and footwear.
The diversity of the early adopters brings BCN3D valuable insights – current AM limitations can be detected with precision, industry and material trends can be identified, and the company has personal contact with the engineers operating the 3D printing labs in a variety of companies. VLM’s versatility makes it capable of covering the entire fabrication life-cycle, from product design to fabrication. BCN3D believes that the benefits will be made extremely apparent in prototyping and end-use parts.
VLM was devised to simultaneously accomplish the three main pillars of providing superb part performance, a high production capacity, and accessible and frictionless operation – thus, unlocking complete manufacturing autonomy. Since all manufacturers equipped with this technology can experience full control over every stage in their production processes with AM solutions, the findings from the Technology Adoption Program point to some interesting applications that are on the rise.
Some of the main applications taken from this research include low emission end-use parts, elastomeric components, biocompatible parts, and the mass-customization of high-temperature and high-resistance parts. Furthermore, multi-property opportunities in the medical sector range from the need for different biocompatibility requirements in dental, to complex combinations of rigid and flexible parts in prosthetics and orthosis. Last but not least, regarding the mass production of functional parts, the obvious applications include nesting strategies with water-soluble supports without manual polishing or overmolding solutions. Among this wide variety of applicants are those participating in material development. These elite AM users are testing and furthering new ways to utilize the high viscosity resins that make VLM so unique.
“The overwhelming initial reception for our most recent innovation has surpassed our expectations and set the tone for the onset of the distribution of our first VLM commercial systems. We’ve been able to hone in on what really matters to each individual company by gathering real, tangible information from experienced engineers. We’re aware of special interest regarding multi-material, and thus multi-property and water-soluble applications. Of course, functional materials also hold huge potential,” said Xavier M. Faneca, CEO of BCN3D.
According to BCN3D, the response to the VLM technology release has exceeded the company’s expectations, and BCN3D’s VLM agenda is to now make the jump to a fully-fledged hardware system to serve the world’s most experienced additive manufacturing teams. BCN3D is selecting 20 elite customers to become the first to acquire these VLM printers which will be installed in their own facilities during the Spring 2023. This will grant each company in-house accessibility while still maintaining continuous contact and support from the dedicated materials and applications engineers at BCN3D that make up the application development service.
All in all, VLM’s increasing popularity stems from its way of solving manufacturing autonomy otherwise unachievable by existing ways in the current AM market. Following on from the success of the release and registration to the VLM Technology Adoption Program, BCN3D has set out to implement a powerful go-to-market strategy for the commercialization of VLM printers. In November 2022, users and enthusiasts can expect even more updates regarding VLM at the international Formnext exhibition and conference in Frankfurt, Germany.
The VLM Technology Adoption Program is still open for new applications, as well as the opportunity to be one of the companies to apply for one of the 20 VLM printers during Spring 2023. Following on from the high volume of applications, BCN3D is putting a strong focus on granting extended access to the dedicated VLM Printing Center and to develop its application service with more dedicated materials and application engineers.