LOOP 3D is a 3D printer manufacturer based in Ankara, Turkey, which brought to market the LOOP PRO extrusion-based 3D printing system late last year. The young company is now preparing to expand into the European market with the opening of an office in Wroclaw, Poland. At this pivotal time of growth for the company, we caught up with Mehmet Erkan Ustaoğlu, Founder and CEO of LOOP 3D, and Anna Bogusz, EMEA Sales Manager of LOOP 3D.
From Teknodizayn is born LOOP 3D
Though it is a newcomer to the AM market, LOOP 3D was born out of a well established company in Turkey: Teknodizayn, a manufacturing company and 3D printing reseller. The company, also founded by Ustaoğlu, has a broad portfolio consisting of 3D printing systems from HP and UnionTech, as well as 3D scanners from Artec.
To better understand LOOP 3D, we wanted to know how the company was born and how Teknodizayn became interested in developing its own AM systems.
“Teknodizayn was established in 2010,” Ustaoğlu tells us. “Before founding the company, I had experience from my family business, which was established in 1979. The company dealt with precise gear and gearbox manufacturing. Teknodizayn was founded to focus on high tech businesses such as 3D printing and 3D scanning.
“During its first years, Teknodizayn manufactured many different types of industrial products, such as special valves, pumps and pneumatic pistons, as well as machines for automotive and serial manufacturing, like sheet roll forming machines. The company also has experience in castings, CNC machining, designs for molding and for additive manufacturing. During the design phase of the LOOP PRO, the company used all its industry experience, as well as years of customer feedback from its 3D printer reselling business.”
All the experience gathered through Teknodizayn’s years of work in the 3D printing area prepared it to create a new AM platform and start a dedicated company, LOOP 3D. Today, the LOOP 3D team is made up of engineers, technicians and developers with broad knowledge of operating, servicing and optimizing various 3D printing technologies, as well as CNC machining.
A look at the LOOP PRO
The result of Teknodizayn’s development is the LOOP PRO 3D printer, an extrusion-based system that was unveiled at Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt. The reveal came almost exactly two years after the Turkish company introduced its LOOP continuous 3D printer concept and a working beta model.
“Compared to our 2017 prototype, the build volume has changed,” Ustaoğlu says, highlighting the updates have been made to the new PRO system. “Initially, it was 350 x 250 x 500 mm, now it is 500 x 350 x 500 mm. The Z-axis mechanics have also been completely changed: we implemented advanced H-Bot mechatronics with double linear guideway. The prototype also had a fixed print head that was heavier, while the LOOP PRO has a modular printhead that is very easy to service and quick to remove. Additionally, the printer is now designed in two pieces for easier installation and cheaper shipping.”
Notably, the system is based on an open materials approach. “The LOOP PRO 3D printer is built for industrial applications and is compatible with high-end composite materials. Moreover, we believe in the freedom of using different materials to open limitless 3D printing applications,” says Anna Bogusz. “We wanted LOOP 3D to be an answer to customers’ needs. Cloud-based software helps to run complex projects, track a machine’s life cycle and remotely manage a fleet of machines. In the current situation, it is especially important to be able to offer and develop remote solutions that will support uninterrupted planning and manufacturing processes—we provide a reliable tool that can be used by both professionals and new users.”
Other notable hardware features for the LOOP PRO system are a flexible build plate, a material conditioning unit, unibody aluminum casting and the aforementioned modular printhead.
Fleet management and cost
Beyond hardware, the LOOP PRO system also stands out for its cloud-based software, and specifically its Fleet Management feature. This is the foundation to the printer’s industrial potential.
“From the beginning, we wanted to create a tool that would cover the current and future needs of different companies and that could handle dynamic projects and customers’ network development,” elaborates Ustaoğlu. “LOOP 3D CLOUD users can create a space for each team or a customer and upload all computer file formats that are necessary to finalize the whole complex project.
“With Fleet Management, customers can manage and monitor all LOOP PRO printers at the factory from a single workstation, as well as add or remove access for employees and define how many print jobs can be done per single user. What is interesting is that filament is placed and fed from inside the material conditioning unit at the front of the machine, so it is easy to place a fleet of LOOP PRO printers right next to one another. This saves space compared to many machines that use spools mounted to the side of the machine or the back of the printer.”
Ustaoğlu is also eager to point out that the LOOP PRO is priced competitively compared to other filament-based industrial systems. This, he says, was achieved thanks to the company’s in-house printer production. “We are manufacturing almost all the mechanical parts in-house with CNC machining centers, CNC lathes, SLS systems, etc,” he says. “We have a team that is widely experienced in such operations, so we can accelerate any R&D project. Our assembly line of printers is also in-house. After the machines are ready, we can perform quality testing immediately and ship them out to customers.”
Targeting the global market
Today, LOOP 3D is eyeing a significant expansion into the European market with the opening of a new office in Wroclaw, Poland. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the opening, the company says it is now in the final registration phase for LOOP 3D EUROPE SP. Z O.O. Once the new office opens, the company will not only be selling its systems locally to EU-based customers but will also launch a service center.
Bogusz, who has worked in the 3D printing sector since 2013, is heading the new European office and has high ambitions for LOOP 3D’s growth.
“We are already working with companies from Turkey and Europe,” she says. “In the first stage of LOOP 3D operations, we were planning to open an European office in Poland and initially focus on the EMEA region, but since we already have very interesting contacts from the U.S. and Asia we decided not to limit ourselves to a certain geographic market. The past few months showed that businesses should keep an open mind for unusual solutions and be flexible enough to support customers from many different regions. Manufacturing companies will be also looking for more in-house solutions to avoid downtimes and here the solution might be LOOP 3D.”
Part of this expansion will be the eventual establishment of a global distribution network for the LOOP PRO. “At the moment, all orders are shipped from Ankara,” Bogusz explains. “And while we can ship the LOOP PRO to any location ourselves, we are now looking for representatives to build a network to deliver machines all over the globe.”
This article was published in collaboration with LOOP 3D.