Expanding its footprint in the additive manufacturing (AM) domain, Ricoh, the Japanese 2D-to-3D printing pioneer, is teaming up with North Carolina State University to inaugurate a Center of Excellence. This initiative aims to serve as a focal point for Ricoh’s 3D printing services while doubling as a research hub for pioneering applications and methodologies.

Gary Turner, Senior Director of Additive Manufacturing at Ricoh, articulated, “Ricoh’s Managed 3D-print services are poised to expedite innovation and product development for manufacturers through swift, on-site prototyping. By embracing an as-a-service model, we capitalize on existing 3D-printing expertise and resources, thereby shortening timelines and minimizing additional capital outlays. Our collaboration with NC State empowers our Managed Services clientele with direct access to additive manufacturing insights and resources, enriching their capabilities and enabling us to address unique challenges through the Center of Excellence.”

Mark Schmidt, Associate Vice Chancellor for Partnerships at North Carolina State University, commented, “Additive manufacturing holds immense promise in streamlining supply chain complexities and fostering innovation across diverse industries. Partnering with Ricoh, renowned for its extensive on-site network, will not only equip students for impactful careers but also unveil novel avenues for advancing research.”

Ricoh’s foray into 3D printing has been multifaceted. Collaborations with Axial3D and Stratasys have yielded a seamless workflow from scan to part for medical models. Furthermore, partnerships with Materialise have facilitated the production of medical components leveraging Ricoh’s ISO 13485-certified medical manufacturing center. The company also joins forces with IBM on medical modeling initiatives. With a history dating back to 2014 as a 3D printer distributor, Ricoh is actively developing aluminum and ceramic binder jetting technologies while operating MJF machines and pioneering its powder bed fusion technology. Notably, the company has manufactured power generators for sewage facilities. This progression from being a Leapfrog reseller to venturing into medical implants underscores Ricoh’s significant evolution.

Presently, Ricoh is honing its focus on the 3D Printing for Healthcare initiative, emphasizing medical models while encompassing broader applications. The endeavor to offer an end-to-end workflow and 3D printing solution for medical purposes within hospitals showcases innovation in the sector. With numerous strategic partnerships and a relentless pursuit of regulatory clearances, Ricoh is solidifying its leadership position. Noteworthy competitors in the hospital software toolchain arena include Materialise and Axial, yet Ricoh’s comprehensive approach sets it apart. Expansion into this domain could be facilitated through strategic acquisitions, potentially targeting Oqton or a combination of Oqton and 3D Systems’ Geomagic assets, alongside a stake in Materialise. Despite its cautious investment strategy, Ricoh is emerging as a prominent player in the 3D printing landscape.

The establishment of a base in North Carolina, a hotspot for medical and biotech enterprises, underscores Ricoh’s strategic vision. With the Research Triangle boasting 600 biotech and medical firms, alongside prestigious institutions like Duke, UNC, and North Carolina State University driving groundbreaking medical research, this move aligns with Ricoh’s intensified focus on medical 3D printing. Ricoh’s steadfast commitment and strategic acumen position it as a frontrunner in the medical 3D printing arena, signaling a promising trajectory for the company’s future endeavors.