One of the main issues many engineers have with 3D printing / additive manufacturing is how manufacturers of these machines handle materials. Often, the manufacturer is the only source for materials for its printers, using various methods to ensure exclusivity. These methods include eeprom chips, special codes, and so on.
A companion issue is the price of these materials with some analysts speculating that the cost is inhibiting the use and number of machine purchases.
I’ve had conversations with a number of service bureaus about these issues. According to these engineers, who have used all the major available systems, it’s not a good idea to use materials not developed for the machine you have. Your printed objects will not have the quality, resolution, accuracy, longevity, and properties that you seek.
As many engineers intuit, the price of materials spools and powder is a rewarding revenue stream for 3D printing / additive manufacturing manufacturers.
This state of the industry will not remain dominant, though. As these machines become more prevalent in industry, and their manufacturing costs fall, new sources of materials will emerge.
One newer source is Argyle Materials, the exclusive North American distributor of Bolson Materials, a developer of rapid prototyping build and support materials.
Argyle Materials offers customers materials suitable for use on fused deposition modeling equipment that it claims is equal to or better than OEM materials, but at a price that is 35% less than OEM price.
I recently spoke with Robby Smink, Business Development Manager at Argyle Materials, who noted that he can save customers $100.00 per spool for the Fortus type machines and $70.00 per spool on the Dimension materials.
“We offer a money back guarantee on our materials and for orders of 7 builds and or support spools at a time we offer you an additional $10.00 per spool discount,” he said.
Smink noted that the company’s customer base includes large automotive manufacturers, many schools and multiple Small to Medium size Enterprises (SMA’s). “Many customers have been with us for over 4 years and more coming on board every week. We ship out of Michigan and have local distributors on both the East and West coast.”
“If your are running ABS material we can upgrade you to our ABS+ equivalent AMAX without having to pay the OEM upgrade fee. Similarly, if you are running ABS+, our eeprom chips allow you to run the OEM M30 equivalent–our B30.
Argyle also offers a spool and eeprom recycling program, colors and custom colors, well as small and large spools up to double capacity size for projects that need to run over a weekend. The company will be offering polycarbonate and water-soluble support in about two months.
So, if you are looking for another source for some of your materials, check out the website. It’s worth a look.