“Blockchain & Additive Manufacturing”, an unknown future
Last Month, we talked to Willem-Jan van Loon, founder of Beamler, an Amsterdam-based start-up that provides the industry with 3D printing software service. The aim of that talk was to get Willem-Jan van Loon’s point of view on the use of Blockchain in additive manufacturing. Indeed, van Loon explained us that, Beamler and Erecoin, a Germany-based company will expand blockchain technology for the Additive Manufacturing process chain.
However, as the talk was going by, we realized that it would not have been possible to only talk about Beamler while referring to Blockchain. Discover why in this Opinion of the Week.
A few words on Beamler
A few clicks on Google showed that the company was founded in 2016, achieved its first funding round in 2017 and launched its application in 2017. At a young age, Beamler acquired another company, named Printr, a start-up that delivers an ERP system for desktop 3D printers. Together, the two companies shared a common vision: enhance their product and enable the acceleration of AM.
How would you describe your services?
“We help companies of the industry to answer two questions: what can I print? and Where can I print a part? To answer the first question, companies should know how they can integrate 3D Printing in their business. Our role is then to help them identify business cases that can integrate AM.
The second question enables us to see the potential of this technology at a global level. That’s why, we have developed an AMA chain, AM adoption chain, a solution that allows engineers to get access to a wide range of 3D printers at the same time from any computer through the cloud.
Today, we have a large database of 3D Printers in 43 countries that allow people to benefit from 3D printing on Demand.”
How does this service work at the level of AM operators?
Willem-Jan van Loon explained that AM operators encounter challenges due a lack of accurate information. They therefore provide them with useful data that connect them to a global industrial 3D printing network, that allows them to launch their products at a fast pace.
Such solution could be deemed to be a Business Intelligence application since it basically enables professionals to make key decisions based on feedback.
According to you, how can blockchain be used in Additive Manufacturing?
“In my opinion, blockchain is not mature yet. The Blockchain technology is in the same situation as 3D Printing was a few years ago. Simply put, the main advantage of this technology is to store data on several blocks. Those blockchain databases require a more technical software. They are transparent, and can neither be modified, nor deleted.”
Could you tell us more about your project with Erecoin?
It should be noted that Erecoin is a start-up that specializes in the integration of blockchain in additive manufacturing. The company started its project at Konstantin Steinmüller’s company CAE-lab Gmbh with the aim to overcome challenges raised by validation, trust and security, that are increasingly gaining momentum in the industry.
“Our goal is to remove uncertainties in the AM production line. We are therefore exploring the possibilities offered by blockchain to this end.”
How do you see the future of blockchain for the AM industry?
“Experts will keep exploring the opportunities of blockchain and the industry would be able to know how to store data, how to claim partnerships over parts, how to share information on digital assets and what are these assets, and finally how to take advantage of the desired software for this technology. However, there is still a long way to go and the future is uncertain.”
Much more can be said about blockchain and additive manufacturing. Stay tuned, a full analysis on blockchain & additive manufacturing will be released in this June issue of 3D ADEPT Mag.
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