Nanoe on Democratizing Ceramic and Metal Desktop Additive Manufacturing
An expert in developing raw materials for the ceramics industry since 2008, French company Nanoe entered the additive manufacturing market in 2018 with its first line of ceramic filaments. Compatible with FDM machines, they enable the design of durable parts that are resistant to high temperatures. The manufacturer then expanded its offer by tackling the metal market: today, Nanoe offers five different filaments and a turnkey solution to develop desktop ceramic and metal 3D printing. We met Guillaume de Calan, co-founder of the company, to learn more about its ambitions and projects.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and Nanoe? What is its core business?
Hello, my name is Guillaume de Calan and I am an engineer by training. I studied at Centrale Paris, where I met my partner and together we created a spin-off called Nanoe in 2008. Today, the company manufactures raw materials for the technical ceramics industry. Our powders are high-end materials for industrial customers who need to manufacture all types of parts, whether by pressing or injection processes.Historically, Nanoe is a specialist in ceramic powders but we saw in 3D printing an interesting opportunity for growth.
3DN: In 2018, you launched your Zetamix range: why did you decide to start a business in additive manufacturing?
Our goal is to offer ready-to-use products that are affordable and accessible, compatible with our customers’ machines. Additive manufacturing fits right in with this logic and so in 2018, we launched a range of filaments for ceramic 3D printing. The idea was to make our powders available for extrusion processes. Since we know how to do injection, we thought we could develop filaments, the associated skills are quite similar.
We chose Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) because it is an easy to use, affordable and above all widely available technology. We are thus able to make ceramics accessible to many professionals.
Very quickly we felt a change, that customers were very interested and that we were bringing something that did not exist before. This pushed us to change our offer: at the beginning, we only proposed ceramic filaments and quite quickly, we developed metallic filaments and a machine offer to go with our materials. We realized that by offering 3D printers, we were making life easier for our customers and that we were part of this ease of deployment and use. Of course, we are still a manufacturer of raw materials, but we are able to offer a complete system for ceramic and metal additive manufacturing.
3DN: Nanoe manufactures metallic and ceramic 3D printing filaments. Can you tell us more about their manufacturing process and specify which machines they are compatible with?
The manufacturing process at Nanoe is divided into two steps. First of all, we start with a powder. If it is ceramic, we make it, if it is metal powder, we buy it. This powder is mixed with thermoplastic binders according to very specific formulations. Nanoe has filed 3 patents on this subject. The objective is to have as much powder as possible, but still to keep a plastic-like behavior that can be wound and printed.
Once we have this mixture, the second step is to extrude to make a filament. The extrusion of such a loaded filament requires a certain know-how. Today, we carry out the entire manufacturing process in-house, in our premises in France.
Then, if we look at the manufacturing of parts, it is a three-step process: printing, chemical treatment (debinding), and thermal treatment (sintering). Today, our filaments are compatible with most FDM machines on the market. This is ideal for us because it allows us to reach more professionals. However, we have certified a certain number of 3D printers – we have a partnership with Raise3D in particular, but we have also tested French solutions such as Volumic.
We believe the value of our technology is in the ability to equip ourselves. Our customers want to control their production line from start to finish. So we offer sintering furnaces. We have many customers who come from the ceramics industry and who are very familiar with sintering but not with 3D printing, and on the other hand, professionals who are familiar with additive manufacturing but who are afraid of the sintering part, which is not really that complicated. Nanoe is therefore able to support both types of profiles.
3DN: Who are your customers today and what benefits do they get from your filaments?
We have a wide range of customers for 3D printing. We have a lot of laboratories, but also industrialists in a wide variety of fields such as jewelry, watchmaking, aeronautics, etc. Finally, 80% of our customers use our technology for the same applications, i.e. parts for internal use. For example, for laboratories, they will print sample holders; for manufacturers, they are tooling parts to facilitate welding, heat treatment, assembly, etc. The added value of our materials is ultimately their mechanical and thermal properties. In general, professionals turn to our filaments to design parts that will be mechanically stressed or that need to withstand high temperatures.
Finally, additive manufacturing solves real day-to-day problems for our customers, such as shortening supply times, dealing with the unavailability of certain parts, lowering costs, etc.
3DN: What are Nanoe’s future projects?
Today, Nanoe offers five filaments that are commercially available and this range already addresses the majority of tooling needs. We are looking to consolidate this base before launching other products. However, a new generation of our filaments should be released soon to remove the debinding step.
There are also plans to launch a second, larger furnace, more for customers who need to manufacture small series.
If we move away from new products, we are mainly looking to expand our distribution channels to conquer more of the market. We want to cover the major geographical areas with some distributors in North America, Asia and Europe.
3DN: Any last words for our readers ?
As you can see, at Nanoe we want to develop a desktop ceramic and metal 3D printing solution that is affordable and accessible to professionals. We are looking for commercial partners to make this project a reality so don’t hesitate to contact us!