Merck Chooses UnionTech and RP America for Freedom of Materials and Quality Support

The Merck team with their new UnionTech 450 stereolithography 3D printer
The team at Merck and RP America technician Braden Klyn during the installation of the UnionTech machine at Merck’s facility in New Jersey.

Merck, a global healthcare company with a 125-year history of creating cutting-edge medicine and saving lives, uses additive manufacturing at its locations around the world. This fall, they acquired two UnionTech stereolithography 3D printers—one for their location in New Jersey, USA, and one for their location in Ballydine, Ireland. Senior Lead Engineer of Additive Manufacturing Tinh Nguyen-Demary works at the US location and has experience running 3D printing equipment that dates back to the early ‘90s. This gives him a practical perspective on what makes UnionTech equipment, paired with support and service offered by RP America, so compelling.

His journey to UnionTech and RP started with materials. He was interested in running Somos® materials, and UnionTech equipment is open source, which means customers can run any 355 nm SL material, regardless of manufacturer. Also critical for Nguyen-Demary was service and ongoing maintenance that would keep the equipment running for years to come.

After doing the upfront research into the equipment, he was impressed. “I compared the UnionTech laser to lasers on other SLA machines and was surprised by how good they were” said Nguyen-Demary. “I also liked the big slab of granite [recoater frame], which provides more stability.”

The next step was to see the equipment and RP America facility in person. A quick search on Google Maps revealed that the location appeared to be in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, far from any major cities. The state-of-the-art 3D printing lab he found there, however, surprised him. “I knew Dan [Terpstra, RPSA founder] was in the business of additive manufacturing maintenance,” said Nguyen-Demary, “but visiting Iowa was an eye-opening experience. Seeing the machines, learning about RP America’s history in the service industry, gave me the confidence to move forward.”

Since installation, Nguyen-Demary says, the machines have been running non-stop. “We haven’t had to ask for much support, as the machine has been pretty robust,” he said. “If we do have questions, the first thing our technician does is hop on the phone, and the RP America service technician will usually get back with a fix to our problem in 1-2 hours. If the issue can’t be solved on the phone, the tech will come out to our facility in person, with a response time of a couple days.” He has also found RP America technicians very friendly and easy to work with, and has been impressed with their troubleshooting capabilities. When asked about the inevitable problems that occur when installing a large piece of equipment, Nguyen-Demary related the story of how one of the doors was measured wrong prior to installation, so the UnionTech machine would not fit through. No matter who measured wrong, the RP America installation technician “was very professional and did exactly what we asked” in order to get the machine up and running in a timely manner.