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LG Chem to supply 3-D printer material to Stratasys

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Published : 2014-01-14 19:46
Updated : 2014-01-14 19:46

A shoe printed on a Cube 3-D printer by 3-D Systems is on display at the 2014 International CES, a trade show of consumer electronics, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 9. (UPI-Yonhap News)

LG Chem, the nation’s leading chemical company, is expected to supply its acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic to Stratasys, a U.S.-based 3-D printer manufacturer, according an industry source on Tuesday.

The Korean chemical company will supply the ABS plastic pallets to a processing company, which will then process the material to supply Stratasys.

“To our knowledge, LG Chem may have already begun providing ABS for Stratasys,” a source from Stratasys said. “ABS is currently the most commonly used materials for 3-D printers.”

An LG Chem official supported the claims by saying that the company is expanding its ABS sales to processing companies. “Although the ABS market for 3-D printers is still small, we believe it will see further growth,” said the official, declining to be identified.

Stratasys, which acquired its rival MakerBot Industries last June, has been the market-share leader in the 3-D printing market for the last six years. Stratasys currently has a market share of 44 percent.

Apart from LG Chem, which is now supplying ABS plastic to over 1,000 processing companies at home and abroad, other domestic companies like SK Chemicals and Hyosung are also spurring the development of the plastic materials, taking aim at the 3-D printer market.

“Patents issued by U.S. companies to manufacture 3-D printers have been expiring, and Korean companies, with their skills in producing synthetic resins, have shown increased interest in taking a piece of the 3-D printer industry,” Seoul-based Hyundai Securities Co. analyst Lim Sang-kook said.

“Though it may take some time for the companies to gain a meaningful global market share, they’ll have ahigh potential if they can produce good-quality materials at a lower cost.”

As ABS is light and shock-resistant, it is mostly used as an alternative to metal for vehicles, home appliances and medical devices. More than half of the 3-D printers on the market today use ABS plastic.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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