Luxury giant Richemont pursues 3D printed watches via Panerai brand – 3DPrint.com
The consumer goods market is just starting to see minor penetration of additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The entry point appears to be luxury goods, with the latest company to foray into AM being Swiss giant Compagnie Financière Richemont SA (SWX:CFR), whose Italian watchmaker Officine Panerai aims to 3D print high-end watches. Additionally, the products will be 3D printed from 100% recycled titanium using proprietary technologies from IperionX (NASDAQ: IPX).
IperionX worked with Panerai’s product and technical experts to select watch models that could be 3D printed using the old’s “low carbon” recycled titanium powders. So far, IperionX has produced watch blanks for the Italian subsidiary, with the aim of producing a watch case for a limited edition design that will hit the market in 2023. From there, the two will continue to work together on other watch models.
The luxury giant launches into 3D printing
The third-largest luxury goods company in the world, as of 2017, Richemont is a $65 billion company, in terms of market capitalization. It is well known for its many luxury brands such as Cartier, Montblanc, Chloe and many more. Interestingly, the Swiss company has its roots in the Rembrandt Group, founded by Anton Rupert, once South Africa’s wealthiest person with a history of intrigue in his association with the World Wildlife Foundation.
Founded in Italy, Panerai was originally linked to Rolex SA, which designed and manufactured all Panerai watches except the dials. Paneria developed unique luminous dials using, first, a highly radioactive radium-based compound before switching to a safe compound in 1965. When purchased by Richemont in 1997, it became a luxury brand with higher prices. This included a 2005-2010 partnership with Ferrari, which resulted in watches with prices as high as $30,000.
Recycling titanium to 3D print luxury watches
IperionX is commercializing its hydrogen-assisted magnetothermal reduction technology, which exposes titanium oxides to hydrogen gas to create metallic titanium in a way that creates fewer carbon emissions. Then, granulation-sintering-deoxygenation is used to produce spherical titanium powders cost-effectively.
The Australian-American company is still young, and most of the projects it is engaged in are in the research and development stage. This not only marks IperionX’s move into the luxury goods market, but represents a first application for its recycled titanium materials. With that in mind, it’s actually somewhat surprising that he was able to get such a big partner in this endeavor.
“Panerai has steadily expanded its efforts to promote sustainable practices through operational, outreach and educational initiatives aimed at maintaining a sustainable environment and healthy oceans. IperionX’s 100% recycled titanium enables Panerai to produce premium luxury products with durable titanium that provides a premium experience for our customers. Panerai leads the way for luxury brands in quality and durability. Next-generation metals such as fully recycled titanium from IperionX will allow Panerai to offer both quality and durability,” said Anthony Serpry, Director of Research and Development at Panerai.
“Panerai and Richemont have been leaders in the application of titanium metal alloys in luxury watches, and they are again market leaders in building a circular low-carbon supply chain using the range superiority of titanium products from IperionX,” said Anastasios (Taso) Arima, CEO and Managing Director. “Our partnership agreement with Panerai represents a major step in the luxury sector. For IperionX, this demonstrates the potential in other consumer sectors that demand fully recycled and sustainable low-carbon materials. One of the most exciting sectors is the high growth markets for smartwatches, wearables and smartphones. »
3D printing of luxury products
Despite the possibilities of 3D printing, consumer goods are struggling to take off as an AM market. There were countless promising applications, from jewelry to “shelf,” but the high cost of the technology generally made the cost of finished products prohibitive. However, there have been more recent percolations in the sector that indicate a potential sea change.
In some ways, consumer goods reflect the adoption path of AM for end-use parts in the automotive space, where high-end applications justified the comparative cost of the technology. There, manufacturers of motorsport and luxury vehicles could use AM to improve performance and/or due to the low volume of cars that would be manufactured.
In the consumer goods industry, 3D printing is being applied to products for which customers might be more willing to pay more. This includes running shoes from adidas, golf clubs from Cobra, bicycle and e-bike parts from various companies, and eyewear. Jewelry has so far been the most lucrative area for producing consumer goods, due to the extensive use of 3D printed sacrificial molds for casting rings and other items. We’ve yet to see if custom action figures or 3D-printed video game stills will hold as much promise.
A major difference today compared to a decade ago, when 3D printed consumer goods started to really enter the market, is that new AM technologies are able to drive down the price of parts through increased throughput. For example, Cobra clubs are made using HP’s powder bed fusion techniques. Adidas midsoles are 3D printed with Carbon’s high-speed vat light-curing process. 3D printed bikes are made with Arevo’s large format carbon fiber 3D printing technique.
Presumably, all watches made by Paneria and IperionX will be expensive enough to justify the cost of manufacturing the parts. IperionX’s process may be able to reduce the price of materials, if/once the business begins to scale. At this point, we could see an increase in the number of large luxury goods companies that could use the technology.
This will significantly boost the consumer 3D printing market, which according to Polymer and Metal Data Services reports by SmarTech Analysis, is currently worth around $1.1 billion. Of this amount, the jewelry market is valued at $305 million, which is close to what we might estimate as the value of the slightly larger luxury goods market.
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