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Farsoon Technologies TCT Magazine Interview on CAMS

Number of visits: Date:2017-11-02

Speaking at the first TCT Asia event in 2015, Dr. Xu Xiaoshu, founder of Farsoon Technologies, told TCT he believed “the future of 3D printing is not prototyping, it’s manufacturing.” With around two decades of experience in the additive manufacturing (AM) industry and 40% of staff investment going straight into R&D, this industrial ethos has materialised in its latest AM solution which is set on delivering an industry-focused system that’s also adaptable. Building on its flagship polymer series, the Chinese selective laser sintering (SLS) machine manufacturer, says it’s doing what it’s best at as it gears up for the release of a new machine concept, CAMS, designed for continuous production.

“It's an idea we've been going over for a while now at Farsoon,” Don Xu, Director of Global Business Group, explained. “Our founder, Dr Xu, has been in the industry for quite a long time and one of the big things he felt was that for the whole, additive has developed very slowly, it's still mostly in the prototyping realm. So we were looking at the limitations of this technology and why it hasn’t moved forward and then we wanted to address it with CAMS.”

CAMS - or Continuous Additive Manufacturing Solution - is under development to address AM’s shift into true manufacturing by making continuous production possible. The commercial release, set for TCT Asia next year but with more details expected to be revealed at Formnext powered by TCT, sees the introduction of the first CAMS product, the FS1001P. Positioned to deliver the biggest plastic powder bed build volume on the market at 1000 x 500 x 450 mm, this adaptable multi-laser powder-based system can process high-performance polymers including Polyamide (PA) 6, PA12 and TPU, and Farsoon says the CAMS concept will be able to support metal materials as well in the near future. Modular in design with vertically scalable  continuous production in mind, the system is able to introduce industry specific modules for powder handling, part breakout and automated post-processing capabilities.

“The basic idea of the CAMS system is to deliver an industrial-focused system, really looking at moving additive into the industrial manufacturing realm,” Don commented. “To achieve this, we need to greatly increase throughput both in matters of speed and productivity , while at the same time looking at how to really create a value proposition for the customer in terms for the system and materials. From our side, I think this really ties into Farsoon's whole concept from the beginning that we want to have open systems, more accessible systems and a very open type of business model.”

Citing throughput as one of the big issues stopping AM from moving into manufacturing, Farsoon says  it wants to create optimised solutions that are tailored to specific industries, materials and parts. The CAMS build area can be modified along with the number of lasers depending on the application and this can be adapted into a production line to include auxiliary technologies such as pre- and post-processing automated equipment to make end-use batch parts with little downtime in turn-over.

“One key thing is that we're not thinking about this as one machine that fits all industries,” Don explained. “We are really targeting this machine to be very industry-focussed but we want to be able to work with our industry partners and say ‘here's a framework of a system, we want to work with you to customise this machine to work with the product you're making, the material you're using and adapt to what your production requires’. These machines are going to be very customisable for specific industries.”

Already functioning at Farsoon’s headquarters in Hunan, China, the CAMS alpha system is going through internal testing under the expertise of the company’s founder, Dr. Xu, a figure in the industry since 1997 as one of the original developers of SLS at DTM (now 3D Systems). After leading teams to develop the first four generations of 3D Systems’ technology, in 2009 he went back to China and established Farsoon, turning it into one of the biggest manufacturers of SLS systems in the world.

Farsoon is already well-established on its home soil but Don says the company is still a relative “newcomer” when you look at the global picture. That’s a modest label for a company which last year sold over 80 industrial systems and launched its North American division. Its U.S. office and Demo/Integration Centre is now up and running in Austin, Texas - close to where it all began for Dr. Xu and with a team of industry veterans such as Chuck Kennedy, VP of Operations, Daniel Delgado, Director of Customer Support, and Phillip Conner, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Solutions, all formerly of DTM in the 1990s, at the helm.

“We’re very much aiming to be a global company,” says Don. “We are well established in China, but realise that our international presence is still small, however we are expanding in that realm and getting our name out there. One big difference that sets us apart is our “Open for Industry” philosophy, we want to establish a open business model, which I believe will help the industry develop much more quickly by offering the customer much more flexibility and freedom for their production needs.”

That openness is a big part of Farsoon’s DNA. The company began publically announcing its open systems in 2014 back when the subject was relatively unheard of amongst other major players. Farsoon realised early on that a closed mindset “doesn’t quite work in an industrial setting” and by having open parameters and an open business model, it has made strides in both hardware and materials.

“It's one of the big challenges, it's something that Farsoon realised that you can't do this alone because every industry has its own specific requirements and that's one of the reasons why we are working with partners to really develop these systems,” Don added. “Farsoon isn't looking to control every aspect of the machine in the industry, we are very happy to work with partners to develop a complete solution.”

Farsoon has established a number of partnerships in the industry since 2015 including long-term partner Laser Sinter Service (LSS) in Germany, chemical giant, BASF which led to the development of its PA6 material, and Prodways in 2015 resulting in the launch of a new machine brand, Prodways powered by Farsoon. It’s also one of only two labs in China to receive the National Additive Manufacturing Laboratory status, which allows the company to tap into resources and collaborate with other research groups within the sector.

For this latest machine concept, while potential partners and customers are being kept under wraps, Farsoon says it’s particularly interested in how this machine will impact the automotive sector due to its large build volume and compatibility with PA6. Starting with in-house customer collaborations, we should be able to see some customer examples towards the end of 2018.

Don concluded:

“We've got a lot of people asking us to partner from all different industries … It’s a fast moving industry, everybody is looking at how to improve the technology, everybody is talking about new ways to use it so it's something different everyday for us.”


Visit Farsoon Technologies at formnext on 14-17th November at Frankfurt Messe, Hall 3.1, Stand E31.

Laura Griffiths,
The TCT Magazine



TypeInfo: Media Center

Keywords for the information:



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