3D printing is serious business for materials giant BASF SE.
During the past year, the German company has acquired filament producer Inofil3D as well as two start-up companies with a specific focus on plastic powders and formulations for selective laser sintering, “expanding our market access in the area of powder bed fusion,” as BASF then explained.
Now comes the announcement of a new strategic alliance between BASF with Leuven-based Materialise, a leading supplier of 3D printing technologies, and which BASF is underscoring with a $25 million investment in the Belgian company.
The collaboration with BASF is intended ‘to drive growth in the 3D printing industry by promoting a more open market model', said Fried Vancraen, Materialise CEO. He noted that the technology's design optimization possibilities and potential to create new business opportunities have led manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace and consumer goods industry turn to 3D printing.
“However, today's 3D printing industry doesn't yet offer the interoperability that industrial manufacturers are looking for. If they want to be serious about adopting 3D printing as a complementary manufacturing technology for final products, they simply cannot afford to be locked into proprietary solutions that limit their flexibility and choice.
"If we, as an industry, want to increase the adoption of 3D printing, we need to work together to provide more control, more choice in materials and systems and ultimately lower cost,” Vancraen said.
The agreement allows for systematic, wider scale testing and further optimization by BASF of its materials on the machines and within the infrastructure of Materialise. It is aimed at accelerating the development of innovative applications and new materials.
“Together, we can exploit our strengths even better to advance the 3D printing sector,” said Volker Hammes, managing director of BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH.