3D Printing Service bureaus play a pivotal role in the additive manufacturing industry’s development. They are a tangible way to confirm the capabilities of 3D Printing technologies (software & 3D printers). This sector is growing so fast that it is hard to determine the exact number of service providers that are currently leading this market share.

However, in Belgium, among the well-known players of this segment, there is ZiggZagg, a 3D Printing service bureau founded in 2010 with the goal of becoming one of the top players in the additive manufacturing industry.

We recently visited the Aalter-based company to get inside their story.

ZiggZagg in its early beginning

ZiggZagg is a spin-off of a company that specializes in light fittings. The company debuted its activities by providing architects with manufacturing services of architectural models.

Various 3D Printing technologies including FDM, SLS, SLA were then harnessed by the company to provide clients with models that meet their needs.

In 2013, as the industry was moving towards industrial production, ZiggZagg envisions a new development for the company’s activities. May 2017 saw the acquisition of their first HP’s game-changing AM technology (4200 MJF machine) and the beginning of a new chapter.

The path to industrial 3D Printing

Eyewear by ZiggZagg

In only two years, ZiggZagg has made a huge investment to position itself not only among the top 3D printing service bureaus in Belgium, but also to earn its seat on the international arena.

With 9 HP Multi-Jet Fusion systems today, ZiggZagg is part of the 7 global partners of the manufacturer. Although architectural models still account for a significant portion of the company’s turnover, Aalter’s 3D Printing service bureau increasingly supplies the automotive, aerospace, medical and injection moulding sectors.

According to Jo De Groote, Sales Manager at ZiggZagg, “one of the biggest challenges is that, in the industry, everybody wants to manufacture parts as cheap as possible but “cheap” does not necessarily mean “quality”. Luckily, we have acquired an extensive know-how in additive manufacturing that enables us to guide each client towards a technology that perfectly meets his needs.”

Various 3D Pritned parts by ZiggZagg – Image by 3D ADEPT Media

“Indeed, FDM, SLA, SLS and MJF all have their own advantages and disadvantages. We have studied and used each of these technologies. FDM for instance, requires a lot of post-processing work. SLA remains a good technique but is not the ideal one when thinking “industrial” and SLS is the alternative solution to the use of HP’s MJF but does not enable high-volume production. HP’s MJF technology therefore remains the additive manufacturing technology that can meet issues of reproducibility, complexity, speed and volume production often encountered during a manufacturing process”, adds Jo.

A real proponent of series production

3D printed architecural plan – image by 3D ADEPT Media

ZiggZagg is a real proponent of series production via additive manufacturing and being a global partner of HP certainly contributes to fulfill this mission. HP has propelled the industry to 3D Printing production, and last year alone, 10 million parts were produced on Multi Jet Fusion Technology.

With the launch of HP 5200 series of 3D Printers, the information technology company has formed strategic alliances with the industry. At the heart of these alliances, there is a Digital Manufacturing Network that comprises AM Service providers that can help companies of the industry to speed development of new products and shorten time to market. Belgian companies ZiggZagg NV and Materialise have been qualified alongside 5 other production partners.

As far as ZiggZagg NV is concerned, HP’s machines seem to have impacted ZiggZagg’s production on the whole. More importantly, the technology seems to enable series production in ZiggZagg’s projects and to give the company the certainty they will further expand their services into other target markets.

The Factory tour

Factory – Image by 3D ADEPT Media

Jo’s presentation in the conference room was followed by a guided tour of the company. With both mid-market and big names in their clients’ portfolio, the tour revealed the strong level of organization implemented in the company to ensure each production.

Jo also explained the importance to have a dedicated AM system for the medical industry while other systems can easily be used to ensure other types of production.  

We were shown various creative 3D printing projects across various industries including the eyewear industry, the architecture sector, and the automotive industry…And all of them revealed the capabilities of HP’ s MJF technology to print quality parts in high-volume. 

More importantly, we saw the commitment of a strong team ready to invest extra miles to reach the company’s goal: being one of the top players of the industry at the European level.

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Guest Post is a series of interviews written by 3D ADEPT Media Team. Each interview discusses a specific topic of the industry while laying emphasis on a company’s sector of activity.