Exclusive Interview with the Henkel LOCTITE Team on its Entry Into the 3D Printing Market

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Henkel is a 143-year-old company with over 53,000 employees that is well known for Pritt and Loctite glue, SYOSS shampoos, Sun and Persil detergent as well as Right Guard deodorant. Henkel’s products are available worldwide and they’re usually active in large product categories often selling directly to consumers. The firm, however, has entered the 3D printing market with a flurry of business to business activity and end consumer products. Henkel is working with companies such as EnvisionTEC and Origin on photopolymer resins, has launched its own resins, has 3D printing finishing kits and specialized 3D print finishing machines (which I swear were both ideas I gave them), has opened a new facility and has acquired Molecule Corp. Through their Loctite brand and division, the company is developing and launching products aimed at facilitating 3D printing as well as materials aimed to make it more prevalent. Henkel seems intent to put its considerable weight behind expanding 3D printing applications and industrialization, so we interviewed their 3D printing management team to find out more.

Why is Henkel interested in 3D Printing?

“The 3D printing market is still at the very early stages, and we believe the applications potential is still unlocked. Henkel aims to drive adoption in the rapidly growing market for additive manufacturing beyond prototyping to final parts production.”

What do you have to offer the market?

“We recently announced our new materials platform where we offer innovative building blocks to engineers and designers to realize their ambitions. Manufacturers of 3D printers and system providers that work with us benefit from our unique offering of next generation resins, and we work closely with our industrial customers identifying the applications and the technologies that best fit their needs to drive an additive transformation in their production lines.”

What is different about Henkel’s approach vis a vis other polymer companies?

“We have a strong application know-how across more than 800 industry segments with decades of experience transforming bolts and screws into a chemical bonding set up. Based on that unmatched technological and industrial knowledge, we believe we are the industrial partner with the application know-how to assess and transform current manufacturing processes into digital manufacturing workflows.”

Why is so much of your effort focused on finishing?

“Henkel has an extensive portfolio of high-impact solutions for bonding, cleaning, coating, surface finishing and impregnation of parts produced from standard manufacturing methods. Our solutions are used every day in almost every industry. Even though additive manufacturing technologies rapidly evolve, all current methods require manual operations after the printing to enhance quality, add functionalities and enable the final assembly. Thus, we want to bring this industrial know-how for finishing parts into the additive manufacturing space.”

How would I use your finishing station?

“The dual wash cleaning station consists of two tanks, one for cleaning and one for rinsing. The user screen allows individual set-up values to be entered for cleaning time, agitation speed, and directions. To maintain equipment, removable tanks enable cleaning at the end of each shift. The washer is designed to work with Loctite 3D Printing Cleaner C to ensure the best performance.”

What are you working on with Origin?

Origin is part of our open materials platform. Open technology and partnerships between the technologists and the chemists now enable additive manufacturing to compete against conventional injection molding without the underlying risks, long lead times and penalties for design iteration. We are delighted to offer our customers revolutionary materials that enable the use of additive manufacturing for true high-volume production.”

What are you working on with HP?

“We are a material development and go to market partner for HP. HP is a strong partner within our 3D printing ecosystem and we believe that their Multi Jet Fusion technology will play an important role in the industrial transformation towards additive manufacturing.”

What kinds of materials are you developing?

“Every day, Loctite is developing groundbreaking materials to address the specific needs of the market, including resilient elastomers, heat-resistant polymers, biocompatible formulations, and other high-performance materials.”

What did the acquisition of Molecule Corp do for you?

“Molecule’s strong 3D printing and inkjet resin technologies and digital development capabilities perfectly complement and strengthen our materials portfolio and build on our approach to offer a comprehensive range of customized additive manufacturing solutions.”

What 3D printing technologies are you focusing on?

“For our material development program, we have launched a portfolio a portfolio of high-performance resins for DLP/SLA technologies and we continue to develop applications in this space. We have also announced our material development partnership for HP’s MJF technology.
“For post processing, finishing and functionalization of 3D printed parts, we are offering our solutions across all the 3D printing technologies.”

Who are you interested in partnering with?

“We are working with our partners such as printer manufacturers and system providers and we will continue to foster collaboration programs with multiple players in the industry to drive the industrialization of additive manufacturing.”

What advice would you give a company that wants to manufacture with 3D printing?

“There is no general answer to that question. We have a longstanding history in developing and providing tailor-made solutions for a broad variety of industries and production processes. The use of 3D printing technologies for manufacturing must always be customized as well.”

What is holding 3D printing back?

“We believe the hardware and software developments are becoming more impressive every day, but certainly there is still a lot of room to develop the broad spectrum of materials needed to serve the applications our industrial customers need today. Thus, we are focusing our efforts on developing engineering level materials that compete with injection molding performance.”

Will you sell your products only directly, also through resellers?

“We work closely with our customers to help to identify and develop applications for 3D printing. We also work with our very experienced industrial partners who help us serve more customers.”

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