As such, Adpative3D said it prides itself on designing additive materials that are high quality enough for end uses, but repeatable and efficient enough for high-volume manufacturing.
"Developing strategic partnerships is key for us," Reagan said. "We're trying to remove the stigma of a customer finding us for a prototype then changing the material for the final product. Some of our partners and investors focus heavily on the processing side, and we want to put pressure on the processing and equipment side. We talk to the specialists and let them run our materials. Our stuff is high quality, and we want it to look good."
Reagan said Adaptive3D seeks out quality polyurethanes, silicones and nylons that can serve as materials for functional, end-use parts.
"I think one of our biggest, well thought-out placements is that we are an open source company," he said. "People are unhappy when they buy a decent high-end printer, then pair that with sub-par materials—or the opposite, where the materials are high quality but the printer is not. It helps us to stick with open source materials."
Adaptive3D focuses exclusively in the additive manufacturing realm, with a team comprising material designers and chemists. "Close to 99 percent" of its products are 3D printable, Reagan said. "It is ideal to print a shoe or a shoe product in high volume, where the customer doesn't have to say, 'Wait, we need a new material.' "
And it's why Adaptive3D strives for such strategic partnerships with customers who want to keep the printed material for the high-volume end product.
"And that's helping a lot," Reagan said.
Regulatory markets in 3D printing
The regulatory landscape for additive material developers in 3D printing can be brutal, according to Reagan.
"On the medical side, for instance, FDA regulations require ridiculous amounts of time and capital," he said. "We try to dodge those issues as best we can. Right now, we just make additive materials used in medical and surgical models for surgeons to train on—these are not products that are going in to a human body."
By staying away from end-use products that require regulatory sign-offs and certifications, Adaptive3D is able to keep its development costs down.
This philosophy also develops trust with those specialists who work with Adaptive3D's materials, and allows "the experts" to handle such regulatory issues themselves.
"If a product requires a fire safety rating, for instance, maybe it goes in an airplane," Reagan said. "Rather than design a material that is fire retardant, we will have a specialist add their fire retardant coatings to the product. In this way we are able to stay away from the regulatory markets."