Entries in 3D Systems (110)
by General Fabb
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.
3D Systems announced the immediate availability of VisiJet Jewel, a new specialized material formulated for high volume jewelry production. Developed expressly for use with the ProJet 6000 and 7000 professional 3D printers, VisiJet Jewel allows manufacturers to produce master models for direct casting of cost effective jewelry with unparalleled detail, accuracy and quality, in hours rather than days.
Read more at Engineering.com
Singularity University is a specialized institution dedicated to leveraging "the power of exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges", and created by forward-looking entrepreneurs Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. The grand challenges include research in very diverse areas, including energy, security, poverty and space exploration. The institution attracts top level students to work on these difficult problems.
Today we see that 3D Systems has offered to support SU by donating a fabulous set of 3D printing gear, including:
- TWO (!) Full color Zprinter 650's
- A Projet HD3500Plus
- Two Cubes
As we've said before, the secret of 3D printing isn't so much the printer as it is the design that gets printed. And we suspect there will be some awesome designs produced at SU.
As one of the two mega-3D publicly-held printing companies in existence today, 3D Systems is obligated to formally report on their finances periodically. We like view them as a kind of bellwether on the state of the 3D printing industry. So how did they do this quarter?
Apparently very well. Their revenue increased a massive 57%, or USD$90M in actual dollars from the corresponding quarter last year. Profit grew at a similar rate, 69%, yielding USD$18.2M income.
Where did this increase come from? Evidently 3D Systems says the growth was "across all revenue categories", but particularly their sales of 3D printers increased substantially: 123% (and remember, this count does not include the low-priced consumer oriented Cube, which would hugely skew the numbers.)
Overall, it seems that things are proceeding very well at 3D Systems, and by extension the entire 3D printing market.
Via 3D Systems
Rapidform is well known in the 3D industry and provides reverse-engineering software. That means their software accepts a 3D scan and then transforms it into a usable, parametric CAD model. In practice it isn't totally magic and produce the CAD model at the touch of a button, but instead Rapidform simplifies reverse engineering by providing a huge toolkit of techniques for you to transform the scan into a true model.
The terms of the acquisition have not yet been made, but evidently 3D Systems expects this venture to add USD$15M per year to their bottom line, so you can bet they paid a large price for Rapidform.
We see this as another step in 3D Systems' initiative to simplify the route to their 3D print services. They've done this before by acquiring various software companies whose products are then integrated into the production workflow.
3D Systems' new personal 3D printer, The Cube, has been awarded the 2012 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics magazine.
This annual award is presented to a selection of innovators and inventions that the magazine believes have advanced society in some important way.
The Cube was not the only winner; other awardees included: SpaceX's Elon Musk, the Chevrolet Volt, the Leap motion detector and the Lytro Camera.
3D Systems has acquired another regional 3D print service bureau: The Innovative Modelmakers BV, a Dutch company. According to 3D System's press release, TIM is a "leading full service provider of on-demand custom parts services".
They plan on integrating TIM's business into the 3D Systems' already operating On Demand parts service, specifically 3D Systems Benelux.
We're not sure, but it appears that TIM does a bit more than simply 3D printing, as their site mentions "3.5 Axis milling machines" and "modelmaking craftsman".
Could this mean 3D Systems' services are blossoming into more broad manufacturing technologies, similar to the approach Stratasys' RedEye services have done?
In an interesting move the venerable Smithsonian Institution has partnered with 3D Systems to provide "3D printing services and technology". 3D Systems President and CEO Abe Reichental said:
The Smithsonian has shown both foresight and technological leadership in embracing the potential of 3D printing to preserve and showcase today’s and tomorrow’s collections, making them readily available to a global audience while demonstrating the power of 3D content-to-print in a compelling and meaningful way.
While seemingly just another corporate announcement, this, we believe, foreshadows an interesting future for 3D printing.
First, this represents a significant change in how 3D printing is done by companies. Up to now many companies simply purchased equipment themselves or made one-time contracts with outside firms to complete a project. This is a blanket-style agreement to provide presumably hardware, software, services, consulting and more over a fixed period of time. This is very similar to how Xerox might provide 2D print services to Fortune 500 companies. Is this how 3D print services will invade the business world? Where will this lead to?
Secondly, the fact that the Smithsonian has procured presumably a huge amount of 3D services suggests they have big plans. While we've seen experimental sessions where folks invade a museum and 3D scan objects, this sounds much more like an institutionalized approach. Perhaps they intend on producing 3D models of all of their items? Would they sell 3D prints of famous works? Do they intend on creating a massive repository of 3D art and historical items? This could get very interesting.
Well, that didn't take long! Mere days after introducing web applications capable of dynamically generating rings and earrings to your specifications, 3D Systems has fired up another similar application: Bracelets. It's very easy to use and offers just the right amount of customization for most people.
The Bracelet app works in a fashion similar to its predecessors: a basic item is shown in a 3D window. You're then allowed to change its shape and add a variety of "parts", including letters, digits and numerous shapes. Once you're satisfied with the result (which you can clearly see by twirling the view around with your mouse), you can hit "Save and Print", which immediately sends the generated STL to your computer. From there you can either print it or send it out for production at any 3D print service you like. We suspect that 3D Systems would prefer you send it to their service, however.
We're wondering how far this concept can go. What other obvious apps could generate models for 3D printer enthusiasts? What would you like to see?
There's another big dog on the corner and its name is the ProJet 5000. It's the latest production 3D printer from 3D Systems, offering "maximum productivity in the factory or office", with a "typical accuracy of 0.025-0.050mm (0.001-0.002 inch) per inch of part dimension ".
This device doesn't just look big on the outside; it has much to offer on the inside:
- Massive build area of 550 x 393 x 300mm (21.65 x 15.5 x 11.8 inches)
- Layer thickness as low as 0.032mm (0.0012 inches)
- XY resolution of 656 x 656 DPI
- Designed for producing durable and strong parts
- Uses Non-toxic dissolvable wax support material
- Can hold up to eight 2Kg material cartridges with optional extra bays
We're not sure of the current costing on this 482Kg (1060 lb) unit, but for this capability it won't be something you'll have on your home desktop soon.