The entrepreneurial families Hehl and Keinath – owners of the Arburg Group – acquired specialized 3D printer manufacturer German RepRap GmbH, thus expanding the range of polymer 3D printing technology now directly available to Arburg customers.
Arburg is a global German manufacturer of plastic injection molding machines. In 2013 the company presented its own 3D printing technology, which it refers to as AKF (freeform manufacturing) and is available through two industrial machines: the Freeformer 200-3X and 300-3X. The unique feature of Arburg AKF process is that it can use ay polymer pellet as its source material, thus widely extending the range of thermoplastics available. However, while it was revolutionary and specifically tailored to help traditional manufacturers implement 3D printing, Arburg’s systems have encountered some difficulties in gaining industry-wide acceptance.
German RepRap, on the other hand, was founded in 2010 near Munich as a German manufacturer of low-cost filament extrusion 3D systems. The company rapidly evolved its offer to include more industrial-grade systems and recently further expanded its range of technologies to include LAM (liquid additive manufacturing). Its L320 LAM 3D printer was developed to 3D print with injection molding liquid silicone materials.
The shareholders see additive manufacturing as an important and complementary manufacturing process in plastics processing for the future. As a result of the successful market entry with the Arburg Freeformer from 2013, those responsible at Arburg feel confirmed in this assessment. The focus of the applications with this open system for processing commercially available plastic granules is currently shown in high-quality applications such as. B. in medical technology and with specified material requirements.
While this technology, in particular, has certainly contributed to attracting the Arburg owners’ attention, RepRap will continue to operate as an independent startup, with no operational changes for the 23 employees of German RepRap. Founder and managing director Florian Bautz will continue to run the business and German RepRap will independently continue the tasks of sales, application technology, production and administration. Arburg will also support German RepRap with its wide range of resources on request and in close contact.
Additive, the German online magazine that we could trace as the original source of this news, picked up by several other leading AM media including TCT, reported that during the course of intensive exploratory talks between German RepRap and Arburg, possible additions and synergies were discussed. It became apparent that the range of offers from both providers complement each other in the market. The start-up company from Feldkirchen proved to be an interesting addition due to its flexibility and dynamism after careful consideration from the point of view of the new owners.