The developers of additive 3D printing systems continue to focus on moving into manufacturing. 3D Systems has long had products that suit manufacturing applications, but its previous branded identity did not always emphasize that aspect of the business.
At a recent press event in its Littleton, CO office, president and chief executive officer, Vyomesh Joshi, made the case for 3D Systems role in the additive manufacturing side of the 3D printing industry.
3D Systems has had a line up of prototype and production machines for use with metals and plastics for some time. Through acquisitions, it has also moved into a number of industries. One of the more impressive aspects of the press tour was a look at the company’s medical modeling operations. 3D Systems acquired a medical modeling company three years ago. Now integrated into the 3D Systems corporate portfolio, you could say that additive manufacturing is not the only business 3D Systems is in, but it is one that exploits 3D Systems additive, Geomagic, Haptic and other technologies.
The goal behind the new product introductions announced at the press event is to help customers overcome obstacles to adopting additive manufacturing, noted Joshi. 3D Systems is looking to help customers incorporate traditional and additive manufacturing technologies into a whole production process. It will offer a broad set of additive manufacturing software, services, and technologies.
Among the newest offerings is Figure 4, a modular, scalable platform for the production of small, plastic parts. Joshi says this system offers a 15x throughput improvement versus competitive offerings, and up to 20% lower part cost.
The Figure 4 platform, based on original drawings from industry founder and current 3D Systems Chief Technology Officer Chuck Hull, will range from standalone configurations with prices starting around $25,000 to highly-customized, in-line production systems over $1 million.
Joshi unveiled a next-generation additive metal platform for high productivity factory production of metal parts, including seamless large parts. The DMP 8500 Factory Solution includes integrated powder management and a closed-loop system for uniform, repeatable part quality.
The DMP 8500 Factory Solution has a modular design that reduces required capital equipment and maximizes use. It will allow manufacturers to scale and manage peak manufacturing runs with minimal operator involvement.
Also announced was the introduction of 3D Systems Professional Services, which will deliver a range of offerings from consultative services to implementation and uptime services.
3D Connect is cloud-based software for proactive and predictive serviceability for a range of production environments from standalone to hybrid manufacturing. Initially, 3D Connect will enable remote service and printer fleet support. The software will be integrated on new and select current systems beginning in early 2018.
3D Systems added to its SLS production systems with the ProX SLS 6100, and introduced three new nylon materials. The ProX SLS 6100 delivers large parts and lower total cost of ownership.
The new SLS materials include DuraForm FR1200 fire retardant nylon, DuraForm EX BLK nylon 11 and DuraForm AF+ aluminum-filled nylon.
The ProX SLS 6100 features automated material handling and advanced 3D Sprint software to optimize part builds.
The company also introduced new rigid and engineering grade materials for its MultiJet Printing (MJP) platform. The materials offer tough, ABS-like and durable, polypropylene-like properties, with mid-low modulus, high elongation and high impact strength. A new rigid gray material offers high contrast for viewing fine details. In addition, several of its rigid materials are certified USP Class VI and pass ISO 10993 for use in medical device applications.
The company is entering the industrial desktop 3D printing category with the introduction of the FabPro 1000, an entry-level production printer for engineers, jewelry artisans, and fabricators. The FabPro 1000 fits on a desktop and is priced at less than $5,000.