Detroit — Open platform 3D printing can provide manufacturers with more material options and increased control over the process while maintaining part quality and performance, according to resin distributor M. Holland Co.'s Haleyanne Freedman.
Freedman, a self-proclaimed "3D printing nerd," discussed some of the most common misconceptions surrounding open platform 3D printing during a session at the Rapid + TCT trade show, held May 20-23.
Closed platform 3D printing, where the equipment, software and materials are supplied solely by the machinery maker, has been the standard until a few years ago when key patents expired that previously doused competition in the 3D printing market, she said.
"If there's just one or two single platforms that exist for 3D printing and you're a materials company, that's a very small niche for you to dedicate [research and development] resources to create materials for the platform," said Freedman, who is M. Holland's global 3D printing engineering specialist.
Now, however, materials companies are starting to tap into the 3D printing market with "interesting and advanced" materials — many of which aren't available on closed platforms, she explained.
"When you want to utilize these incredible materials that are being developed right now, you have to have access to machinery that can process those materials," Freedman said.
With closed platform 3D printing, she added, there is no other manufacturing process where you have zero choice but to buy the materials made directly by the equipment manufacturer.
"Arburg doesn't sell plastic," she said of the German machinery maker. "And that's because they want you to use whatever you want to use for the application."