Ardy Struijk and Jasper Wille – 3D4Makers

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3D4makers produces filament for 3D printers. Products include PLA, ABS, PETG and PCL Polycaprolactone to high engineering products like PEEK, PEI Ultem, POM and Nylon 46. With unique vertical production and air cooled process the company make advanced, food safe materials. For the high engineering products, which need to be printed at higher temperature 3D4Makers also provides an affordable 3D printer which can reach 400°+ C.

1. Which are the biggest challenges you face as a 3D printing filament manufacturer?
A.S. “Our main objective has always been to create and end solution in partnership with the industry and in combination with 3D printers manufacturers and software designers. One of the first challenges was finding the right brand name as a startup.”

J.W. “In aerospace, there are very few standards for filaments for example. Apart from flammability standards such as UL 94 there few standards for filament production and parts. There are also no standardized protocols for moisture in filament or the strength of 3D printed parts. For different customers, we have different tests in place to satisfy their needs. There are also no standards for medical filament, filament for wearables, conductive filament. We develop many filaments some for very specialized applications in space, aircraft, conductivity, oil and gas and other applications. Many times we’re developing our own requirements, standards, testing protocols and quality control as we go along. It would be much simpler if many things were codified and established.”

2. How has your business evolved over the last 3 years and how much do you expect the market to keep growing?
A.S. “We only started our organization 3 years ago and we became a commercial entity 18 months ago. However, we are evolving well, especially regarding engineering filaments, with revenues growing steadily. We expect our organization to continue to grow rapidly in the next few years, especially with our new Facilan TM product line that is coming out this year. We also have ongoing partnerships with chemical companies which help us to create new engineering filaments for the industry. We expect the total market to grow in the 3D printing industry with a focus on medical, offshore, aerospace and industry.”

J.W. “Our market is growing quickly and our growth has significantly outpaced the market as a whole. Initially, we were looking to make filament for makers, hence our name. Now we focus almost exclusively on bioprinting and aerospace. We make high tolerance high-performance filament for manufacturing using FDM systems. A few years ago these segments were nascent. We’re now talking much more to purchasing managers, compliance people and being brought in on manufacturing projects for parts not prototypes. That is a big change also.”

3. Who are your biggest customers: consumers, education sector, professional sector (designers/architects/researchers) or manufacturing sector?
A.S. “Industrial manufacturing is our biggest customer, followed by our medical filaments and the education sector. These sectors will be our main focus for the next 5 years.”

J.W. “Another one of the largest customer group we focus on is researchers in bioprinting. Scaffolding and new types of implants and materials are the largest focus. Our revenues, however, overwhelmingly come from aerospace. Here the customers are fewer but the orders larger.”

 

4. Which are the materials you sell most of: PLA, ABS, PET, nylon, CarbonFiber/Glass Fiber Composite, Elastomers (TPE/TPU), Advanced Plastics (PEEK/PAEK, PEKK) or Other (ASA, HIPS, PP, PC, etc,.)
A.S. “Regarding the revenue, our advanced plastics are the materials we sell most (75%), this is also where our focus is. Regarding the amount of spools, PLA is still the single most sold material, however with low revenue.”

J.W. “We specialize in PAEKs and high-performance filament for high-temperature applications. PEEK, PEI, PPSU and custom grades of these materials are our largest source of revenue. Besides this PCL which is used in medical braces, drug loaded implants, artificial trachea, ‘smart materials’ and soft robotics is an important seller. We sell some ASA, PLLA and PETG. PLA is not really our focus.”


5. What do you think needs to happen in order for 3D printing (both desktop and professional) to become more widely adopted?
A.S. “We need to help the industry with end solutions and show the possibilities and advantages in creativity, design freedom, costs, environment (distribution) and produced on location and less dependent on suppliers.”

J.W. “In regulated industries: standards, protocols, qualified parts and materials as well as best practices have to be created and enforced. CAD and slicing software must be easier and more fault free. Filament has to be improved and become more high performance as well.”

 

Research
Consumer Products AM 2024

This new market study from VoxelMatters provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of polymer and metal AM in the consumer products industry across the three core segments of the additive manufactu...

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