The Equispheres logo, 3D-printed using the company’s high-performance aluminum powders. Photo: Equispheres
First of all, I'd like to say a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community for recognizing us as the winner of Startups of the Year for Ottawa. As with most tech startups, it's been a long journey of R&D, engineering, and market validation. While those are never-ending, we have finally reached large-scale commercial production!
Equispheres began initial production in 2016, using a prototype reactor to produce aluminum powders optimized for additive manufacturing. In 2018, the reactor was upgraded for higher yield and throughput. Our new commercial-grade reactors began commissioning in 2021 and are now capable of high-volume production.
In 2021, we demonstrated that our material is capable of faster printing, which reduces part costs for our customers. In 2022, Equispheres will continue working with our partners in the automotive, aerospace and defense sectors to qualify our materials for more industrial applications. A big part of that is determining the best parameters (printer settings and speeds) for various additive manufacturing systems and different end-use applications.
Our new reactors are an order of magnitude greater in terms of productivity. That's what the industry needs as additive manufacturing is adopted for serial production. The sector grew at a rate of almost 20% in 2021, according to Wohlers Report 2022.
The superior yield and throughput of these high-speed commercial reactors will decrease the company's unit cost compared with our prototype technology and position us as a world-class supplier of materials and engineering knowledge for industrial 3D printing.
Those are the goals for 2022: get our material qualified on more systems and increase our global presence.
I would say it is the capabilities we have built up to help our customers succeed with their AM programs. First, it's challenging as a startup to convince your audience that you really do have something special. In the business-to-business world, your clients constantly hear about the next greatest thing from salespeople vying for their attention. Then, for our customers to switch suppliers, there is a high level of risk.
Validation and qualification of a new powder take time and resources away from production. We have developed a stand-out Applications Engineering team to help our customers understand our products' real value and work with them to ensure a seamless transition. We help select the best print settings to achieve the required part properties and production rates. This work often gets missed when we talk about Equispheres because the powder truly is revolutionary, but it's essential to our customers' success.
I think additive manufacturing (3D printing), like most emerging technologies, generally isn't well understood. For many people, it's somewhere between "gimmick" and "magic." The reality is that additive manufacturing is a valuable tool that is accelerating very quickly in the manufacturing sector. Among all the hype, especially the idea of "build anything anywhere," users need to understand that the material that goes into the printers is the heart of the whole process. If you are considering industrial 3D printing, you can't afford to ignore the impact of the material.
Our partner Aconity3D lowered part costs by 50% just by switching to our material. That's a huge number in manufacturing. The same manufacturing advantage is available to any company using a modern, high-powered printer and Equispheres' aluminum powder.
There's so much going on in 3D printing right now that it's hard to keep up. If you want to follow some fascinating stuff, watch for more news from Equispheres in 2022! Additive manufacturing is finally making progress for mass production in the automotive and aerospace sectors, and 2022 will be really exciting. Follow us on social as we make waves in industrial 3D printing.
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