It has been only one year since my last visit at SLM Solutions GmbH in Lübeck.
But within this time staff and size of the company has almost doubled, from 120ish last year in June
to just over 200 employees in July this year SLM Solutions GmbH is meeting the growth predictions of
the Additive Manufacturing industry. But Stefan Ritt (Head of Global Marketing and Communications) told me
that it is hard keeping track learning names of new staff.
It’s certainly impressive to see the progress the company has made since their IPO in 2014.
The new customer training and application center with 7 machines for material parameter development
and for benchmark builds on site is looking simply great. Further there is sufficient space for companies to
perform machine acceptance tests in this new facility.
Stefan Ritt took the time to walk me through tall the new parts of the company. The assembly line for the
SLM500HL had been moved to a separate facility to streamline the production. This highlights the strong demand
in the market for the large format systems. But SLM Solutions GmbH is currently about to relaunch the SLM500HL.
Like for all the other machine manufacturers the market for metal AM systems is also changing for SLM Solutions GmbH.
It is changing from customers being predominantly universities, research institutes and R&D departments ordering only one system to global players in industry ordering multiple machines at a time. This new customer profile has a complete different attitude and procedures to acquire new equipment. The expectations of the management of such companies are on the level of industry standards for substractive CNC-systems regarding reliability/up-time, repeat-ability and machine build quality. But this applies to all direct metal machine OEMs and it will help to make this technology move forward.
SLM Solutions GmbH has certainly chosen a strategy and this is ‘growth’.
I couldn’t get any sneak preview but it will be interesting to see what SLM Solutions will present the formnext trade show in Frankfurt in November. Regarding productivity of laser powder bed based direct metal systems SLM Solutions is currently leading with their SLM500HL quad laser system but improvements regarding process monitoring can be expected.