Raplas takes its SLA hardware to the next level
Based in the UK, with offices in the US and Asia as well as distributors worldwide, Raplas is an additive equipment manufacturing company focused on producing and overcoming the obstacles that slow down the industrialization of AM. You may not have heard of it as much as other manufacturers of industrial SLA systems yet, but Raplas is becoming one of the hottest realities on the global AM scene. The company has enjoyed a period of rapid growth, with a large number of customers and a considerable installed base of industrial SLA systems around the world. Today, Raplas is going one step further, with a new state-of-the-art facility and generation 2.0 of its industrial SLA hardware systems.
At this pivotal time for the company, and just ahead of its appearance at AMUG 2022 in Chicago, we had the opportunity to speak with Raplas Chief Revenue Officer, Martin Forth, and Vice President of Sales, Darrin Dickinson. They tell us more about the company’s innovative solutions and Raplas’ vision for production additive manufacturing.
A bit about Raplas
Raplas is headquartered in London with manufacturing facilities near Cardiff, Wales and R&D in Wales and Germany. The company was established by a team of experienced AM specialists with the goal of bringing production-ready solutions to market. “Our goal was to use our hands-on AM and manufacturing experiences to overcome production challenges,” says Martin. “We focused on reliability, consistent precision and materials for production.”
Darrin explains the company’s initial motivation, saying, “One of the things we were most concerned about was that manufacturers were so focused on locking people into very old ways of working, which was causing the market to stagnate. and limited the possibilities. .”
To solve this challenge, Raplas focused on developing its production-ready 3D printing hardware and focused on developing a robust software solution to support its production systems. This is the Integra+ platform, a processing environment that connects Raplas machines to third-party platforms and hardware for seamless production processes and workflows. The software also controls Raplas printers for consistent, high-quality results.
“Our Integra+ control system is at the heart of all our products and processes based intelligently on each original geometry vector,” says Martin. “This is calculated from the original data and our sophisticated algorithms provide the perfect build strategy for part geometry and material properties.”
Leading Industrial SLA Portfolio
The Integra+ solution is a key enabler for Raplas’ entire range of industrial AM hardware, from the industrial SLA offering, one of the largest in the world, to upcoming metallic PBF technology. Integra+ provides a stable control platform that communicates with Raplas machine hardware and integrates with external third-party platforms and hardware. This unique system allows a programmable bridge between different systems to seamlessly control the processes needed in complex environments.
The company’s industry-leading stereolithography portfolio currently consists of five systems: the PR450, with a build volume of 450 x 450mm; the PR700, with a build volume of 700 x 700mm; the PR800, with a build volume of 800 x 700mm; the PR1600, with a build volume of 1600 x 800mm; and the largest system, the PR2400, with 2400 x 800 build capacity and three lasers for increased productivity. Raplas resin production systems can be equipped with removable reservoir options for easy switching between materials and feature a custom build processor developed with Materialize and are integrated with Materialize Magics data prep software.
“A number of things set us apart from others in the market,” says Darrin. “And there are common elements in all of our technologies. We are an open company that chooses to offer open machines. We also work differently with each of our clients; they are the key to our success.
As mentioned earlier, Raplas is also working on an upcoming series of metal AM hardware, which would target large build volumes. “Based on the success of our resin systems, we have developed technologies with Integra+ at their core, so large build volumes can be controlled,” Martin tells us.
“Metal introduces a lot of new dynamics to our offering,” Darrin adds. “We’re trying to make sure that when we launch we can provide differentiation in this space because there’s no benefit to customers if we just provide ‘me too’ technology.”
Manufactured in the UK with a global presence
Raplas is proud to manufacture all of its 3D printing systems in the UK, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have global ambitions. Currently, Raplas works with customers all over the world and in many industries, including automotive, defense and medical.
“We are open to customer needs and have often been the manufacturer of choice for companies that have been stifled in the past by other manufacturers’ offerings. With many of our clients, we work in a way that leads to developments outside the mainstream. Many of these customers demand privacy, and we are happy to support them,” says Darrin. “A number of our customers have sites around the world and our Integra+ platform enables them to accommodate this with workflows that give them confidential control of their data and production processes.”
To further support its customers and expand its business, Raplas recently opened a new factory in Wales. The site covers 25,000 square feet and houses several elements, including production operations, Raplas R&D and its new customer experience center. This facility will play a vital role in enabling Raplas to pursue its short and long term goals.
“By providing the best production-ready additive manufacturing systems, we want to be recognized as industry leaders in a number of different markets,” says Martin. “It would be great to say that we will be the leader in defense and aerospace within five years, however, we are in a very fluid market. Our real priority is to continue to grow and establish by 10 years our new hybrid technologies like established AM technologies for production.
Darrin points out that the company’s agile, customer-focused philosophy also plays a role in its continued growth. “We are a manufacturer of production additive manufacturing systems and we will continue to advance the technologies we have as well as the products developed by our R&D team. It will be an interesting journey as we see more and more market consolidation with mergers and acquisitions happening more often. However, customers are looking for established but more nimble providers who can meet their needs in ways that large public companies are often unable to do. We believe that we meet this market need very well and will continue to do so.
Raplas at AMUG 2022
Raplas will be present this week at AMUG 2022 in Chicago alongside its American distributor RP America. Understandably, the company is eager to be present at the big industry event after the hurdles caused by COVID-19. “AMUG is going to be a big event this year,” says Darrin. “We waited a long time to attend the event due to the pandemic – in fact the day I was due to fly to the US for AMUG in 2020 was the last day of flights from the UK before the locking.”
Coinciding with AMUG, Raplas will announce an additional five-year warranty extension program for its second-generation machines. “We are so pleased with the quality of the 2nd generation machines in our new plant that we are announcing a new support option,” concludes Martin. “Stop by AMUG for more details. We will be there to support our distributor RP America and will be here for the duration.
AMUG 2022 is being held April 3-7 at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Raplas will support its distributor RP America by exhibiting at stand P15.