Entries in 3D Systems (95)
by General Fabb
Over the past few months we've noticed that 3D Systems has relentlessly built features in Cubify to provide generative models to print on their (and other's) personal 3D printers. You can quickly get a customized 3D model of rings, pictures, bracelets, space aliens, earrings, crowns and probably a few more things after we've written this post.
Did you ever wonder how they were able to develop these online model generators so quickly? They've got a system under the covers that helps create them.
And now you can use it too.
According to 3D Systems' Senior Director Consumer Solutions, Sarah Stocker, they've announced "Cubify AppCreate", an online service that lets you put together your own 3D model generator! The system operates much like the old Mr. Potato Head game, where there's a "base element" and various "adornments" you can add to finalize a design.
AppCreate lets you upload your own base and adornments, then brand and label the generator.
Here's the best part: the generator will (once approved), appear among the other generators on Cubify and could be used by anyone. Should someone pay Cubify for a print created by your generator, you'll receive a royalty. At this time Cubify will support only print requests through AppCreate, not 3D model downloads.
Creation of your "app" is straightforward, assuming you've already created the individual 3D elements you'll be using in the app. Just name your app, set basic dimensional parameters and happily upload tons of 3D parts. You can name the categories of parts and include icons for each. When you're done, submit your app for approval by the Cubify mandarins and then you can publish it.
We foresee many innovative apps appearing quickly, as this process seems very easy to use. The burden of effort clearly shifts to the design of the generator; Cubify worries about the rest.
Via Cubify AppCreate
3D Systems' consumer-level 3D printer has been updated. The friendly-looking Cube of 2013 includes several improvements that should make this machine even more attractive than its 2012 ancestor.
The original cube could print only PLA plastic. While we love PLA, there are times you do need to print ABS plastic, particularly when you need a part that will take some stress, such as a coat hook (we own very heavy coats at Fabbaloo). The new Cube now prints ABS or PLA.
We asked 3D Systems Rajeev Kulkarni how the Cube can print ABS successfully when it no longer has a heated build platform? Why doesn't the ABS warp? Kulkarni explained they've changed the formulation of the plastic and combined with software changes ABS warp is reduced significantly. And the glue you apply to the print bed helps, too.
The printer speed has been increased by 1.5 times and its accuracy has been doubled. Additional software integration now permits you to print to your Cube from Cubify.
Otherwise the Cube is outwardly very similar to the previous version; the build volume has not changed and it's still available in some very cool colors. One other thing hasn't changed: the price is still USD$1299.
It's shipping on January 21st.
Don't have US$60,000 for a super accurate color 3D scanner? We don't either, so instead we recommend you try Cubify's latest app: Cubify Capture. It's a terrifically simple method to produce a quality 3D scan of objects around you.
Capture uses an approach that's been used by others: a series of images taken of a given object from various angles are interpolated into a 3D model. What's the difference between Cubify Capture and alternatives? Two big things:
Video input. Capture permits you to simply walk around an object, taking a video with whatever recorder you have, including phone apps. Then you upload the video and they'll figure out the rest. This should be much easier for those uncomfortable with taking dozens of images.
Guaranteed printable results. As anyone who's tried to get a 3D capture with a Kinect or similar approach, there is typically about an hour of work afterwards with various free software tools to "fix" the model to make it printable. You need to make it solid, fill holes, apply a base, trim off backgrounds and floor, etc. Cubify Capture does most of this automatically, and we understand they'll be soon adding more features to make this even more capable.
3D Systems intends on implementing a number of Capture "optimizations", special versions that are able to handle specific scan situations. The first one to arrive is face scans. We can envision others appearing shortly, such as body scans, automobiles, buildings, etc.
How well does the scan work? We thought it was great, as you can see in these images. Above is 3D Systems' Ash Martin in real life, and below you'll see his scan printed on a color 3D printer.
One more thing: we were told that the models generated will be exportable as STL or OBJ format (OBJ containing color texture info) so that you can use these 3D models on ANY 3D printer, even if it isn't a cube! Well done, 3D Systems!
We wondered what would happen to Bits From Bytes (or "BFB") as they were known. They last updated their 3D printer line with the 3DTouch about a year ago. Would they announce a new printer in 2013?
Yes and no, it seems. Parent company 3D Systems announced the new CubeX personal 3D printer, the big brother to the original Cube. At first glance, it seems like a brand new 3D printer, but when you look closer, it seems to be a lot like the 3DTouch. It's actually manufactured in the same factory as the old BFB's, too.
When questioned about the machine's heritage, 3D Systems reps insist it's a new printer.
And it really is. While the case, frame and overall design concept is pretty much a BFB 3000, the innards are quite different and much more capable.
The CubeX comes in 1, 2 or 3 extruder varieties, priced at USD$2499, USD$3249 and USD$3999 respectively. The three extruders mean this machine can print in three colors at the same time, and this feature is fully supported by the printer's management software. One interesting observation is the "fourth" extruder on the left; it's not an extruder, but instead is an extra wiper to ensure excess plastic is more effectively removed.
What makes it more capable? Aside from a new extruder that takes the fine filament much more smoothly, they've re engineered the software to enable much faster printing. This life-size basketball was printed in only 22 hours. Yes, that's a long time, but we thought it should have taken 60 hours or so until informed otherwise.
The CubeX includes print cartridges, just like the original Cube and very unlike its predecessor machines. While these cartridges ensure correct operation thru precision filament size and chemistry, they do cost USD$99 each. How much material do you get in a cartridge? We couldn't find out, but from the weight of one, it seems to be around a pound or pound and a half. That's a little pricey, but perhaps worth it to ensure successful printing.
[UPDATE: We've just learned that the CubeX's cartridges contain a chip that indicates the type of material in the cartridge, ABS or PLA. This means the printer can detect whether you've loaded the wrong cartridge and prevent at least a few print disasters.]
And that seems to be the objective of this machine: avoiding the intermittent problems encountered during 3D printing. Print fails are common on most machines, making newbies doubtful of the value of a 3D printer. It seems that 3D Systems understands this and has taken action.
The new printer ships in February.
Via 3D Systems
This one is a big deal. Of the many acquisitions completed by 3D Systems, their announcement of the absorption of Geomagic is significant.
First the obvious: Geomagic produces a number of software tools for the 3D industry, including products to design 3D models, perform quality control, handling 3D scans and more. Their products are well-regarding in the industry and now they all belong to 3D Systems.
But there's much more behind this move.
At this point 3D Systems boasts a very impressive collection of 3D modeling software, as the Geomagic inventory is added to the previous acquisitions of Alibre and Rapidform. In particular, Geomagic and Rapidform are two of the leading "scan to CAD" tools. Could 3D Systems be building a 3D software arsenal capable of challenging companies like Autodesk and Solidworks? It seems there's a strong emphasis on 3D software.
The founder and CEO of Geomagic, the renowned Ping Fu, now joins 3D Systems. When the deal formally closes, Fu becomes 3D Systems' Chief Strategy Officer. Fu comes with an incredible series of success stories, including being awarded the title of "Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2005.
But wait a sec - Fu is a software entrepreneur. Not a hardware engineer. Why would a hardware company appoint a software person as their strategy officer?
Because they're focusing on software. And they've got a leader to take them places they've never been before.
Via 3D Systems
We took a very close look at 3D Systems' new professional 3D printer, the ProJet 3500 HDmax. This new 3D printer is quite an update over its predecessors, beyond the rather nice exterior rework. It definitely does not look like any other ProJet.
What else has changed? The internal change mainly is the processing capability, which has been increased. This means that the device can handle more increased resolution without a loss of production time.
The other major difference is a new material: VisiJet X. It's an ABS-like material that not only produce high definition parts, but also is unnaturally strong. We tested a couple of sample objects in this material and found them to be much stronger than parts made with previous ProJet materials.
But there's one more incredibly cool feature: an iPad app! Using this app you can directly control the device. The app shows an analogue of the actual machine's control panel. You can start, stop, reorder or cancel jobs. You can see printer status and take actions. For those running a production shop, this could be the difference that keeps you from driving to work for emergency changes.
There are many interesting things to see at Euromold if you're into 3D printing, but perhaps the most noticeable is 3D Systems' incredible "Cube Shop and Cafe". Yes, it's an actual bar, the first thing you see upon entering Hall 11, home of all 3D printing vendors at this year's Euromold conference.
The bar's purpose, of course is to raise awareness of the Cube personal 3D printer. But that's not all. There are actual drinks, 3D printed doodads and some pretty decent music. You'll also see some items for sale, including high-end 3D prints and of course any of the piles of Cube 3D printers (marked at €1449).
We've never seen a trade show booth like this one, so we thought you'd like to take a visual tour.
The layout is indeed much like a bar, including stools, drinks and drinkers.
Behind the bar you will not find a showcase of fine spirits. Instead you'll see more Cubes.
To avoid chilling your fingers on that cold drink, the glasses have 3D printed handles.
At one end of the site there's a small store stocked with many very interesting 3D printed items, including this amazing lamp shade.
You might also consider buying a 3D printed purse.
More than likely the iPhone case would not fit snugly.
Perhaps you'll be interested in a colorful figurine?
Or maybe a 20cm tall full-color robot?
Perhaps, but we'd settle for one of these.
3D Systems has abruptly introduced a new version of their Cube 3D printer management software (Cubify) specifically for OSX. This is a major step by 3D Systems, who up to now have not offered OS/X-based software for, um, well, anything as far as we can tell.
The software performs well, offering an extremely simple interface for non-technical 3D printer owners. Large buttons and simplified controls are the menu for this software. The tool imports STL, automatically repairs it into printable state and provides simple orientation/scaling. Of course it also slices your model for printing - and it does this very rapidly compared to anything using Skeinforge under the covers.
We think this is a huge move by 3D Systems, as their move towards the consumer market would be significantly blunted if they hadn't offered software for OS/X.
We're now wondering when they'll offer an OS/X version of their inexpensive Cubify Invent 3D modeling software.