BCN3D will deliver its first VLM ™ systems in Spring 2023.

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In March this year, BCN3D announced that its constant drive for innovation has led 3D printing experts to unprecedented 3D printing technology using high-viscosity resins.

BCN3D will deliver the first 20 commercial VLM ™ systems in Spring 2023.

Developed in the last 3 years, the patented Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) ™ system has generated massive attention worldwide, with over 500 companies registering to become early adopters of the ecosystem's development. BCN3D has responded to the demand by working with Arkema and Henkel to achieve material properties and applications not otherwise achievable with other resin technologies. As it turns out, the company aims to provide VLM systems to 20 companies participating in the Technology Adoption Program (TAP). The systems are due to be handed over in spring 2023.

The Technology Adoption Program has been flooded with registrations. The admitted candidates come from far away countries, with the United States dominating the majority, followed by Germany and other European countries. BCN3D began deploying local operations in North America in late 2021, and in April, VLM use cases were unveiled to the public at Rapid + TCT in Detroit, resulting in a massive increase in enrollment in the technology rollout program.

The initial intention of early adopter accumulation was to channel market entry by gathering market information from a wide range of vertical markets. Thanks to this, BCN3D is able to adapt its technology to the real needs of customers, especially in the field of production, automotive, engineering, dentistry, prosthetics and orthotics, jewelry, product design, 3D printing services and footwear.

Insights from the VLM ™ technology implementation program

The diversity of early adopters provides BCN3D with valuable insights: current limitations can be accurately detected and hence industry and material trends can be identified as the company has personal contact with engineers supporting 3D printing laboratories at various companies. The versatility of VLM means that this technology is able to cover the entire production life cycle, from product design to the final stages of production. BCN3D believes that the benefits will be immensely noticeable in both the prototyping phase and the end products.

The VLM was developed to achieve three main pillars simultaneously:

  • excellent part performance
  • high production throughput
  • access to trouble-free operation and thus unlock full production autonomy

As all manufacturers equipped with this technology can experience full control of every step of their manufacturing processes with AM solutions, the technology implementation program findings point to some interesting applications that are becoming more and more popular.

Some of the main applications drawn from these studies include low emission end parts, elastomeric components, biocompatible parts, and mass customization of parts meeting strength and temperature requirements. Moreover, there is a need in the medical sector for various biocompatibility requirements in dentistry, right through to complex combinations of rigid and flexible parts in prosthetics and orthodontics. Last but not least, when it comes to mass-producing functional parts, obvious applications include nesting strategies with water-soluble supports without manual polishing or overmolding solutions. Among this wide variety of applicants are those involved in the development of the materials. These elite AM users test and develop new ways to use high viscosity resins that make VLM so unique.

“The overwhelming initial adoption of our latest innovation exceeded our expectations and set the tone for the start-up distribution of our first commercial VLM systems. We managed to fine-tune what really matters to each business by collecting real, tangible information from experienced engineers. We are aware of the special interest in multi-material applications, and hence multi-property and water-soluble applications. Of course, functional materials also have great potential. "- Xavier M. Faneca, CEO of BCN3D

What awaits us in spring 2023?

The response to the introduction of VLM technology has exceeded expectations, and BCN3D's VLM plan is to move to a fully fledged hardware system that will serve the most experienced additive manufacturing teams in the world. BCN3D selects 20 elite customers to be the first to acquire these systems, which will be installed at their own facilities in spring 2023. This will provide each company with availability while maintaining constant contact and support from BCN3D engineers regarding dedicated materials and applications.

Overall, the growing popularity of the VLM is due to its way of solving productive autonomy otherwise unattainable with existing methods in the current AM market. Following the successful launch and registration for the VLM Technology Adoption Program, BCN3D decided to implement an effective go-to-market strategy to commercialize VLM printers. In November 2022, users and enthusiasts can expect even more VLM updates at the international Formnext exhibition and conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Technology Adoption Program (VLM) is still open to new applications, as well as the possibility of becoming one of the companies that will apply for VLM units in spring 2023. Due to the large number of applications, BCN3D places great emphasis on granting extended access to the dedicated VLM Printing Center and the development of application services with more dedicated materials and application development engineers.