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12 Years Later, 3D Printing Group Added

March 29, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 16:55

It has been in the works for some time. Now, it’s official. Yesterday, Stratasys announced the formation of a business unit dedicated to 3D printing. Company founder and the inventor of fused deposition modeling (FDM), Scott Crump, envisioned a large market for 3D printers, even before the company sold its first FDM machines 12 years ago. So what took so long to create a business unit focused on the technology? It wasn’t until recently that the company had a product that could truly make a difference in this market segment. Genisys was a serious attempt, but it failed. Crump had very high hopes for Genisys after acquiring the patents and technology from IBM in 1995. The Dimension product, introduced about 13 months ago, has quickly become what Genisys was meant to be. Priced at $29,900 and offering ABS plastic, Stratasys has hit a sweet spot in the market. With industry veteran Jon Cobb heading the Dimension 3D Printing Group as vice president and general manager, I expect to see this group develop and expand into something special.

Precision STL-Based CAD/CAM

March 22, 2003

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,machining — Terry Wohlers @ 08:03

MecSoft Corporation recently announced the availability of its VisualMill Basic 4.0 product for $550. The product is also being bundled with Rhino from Robert McNeel & Associates for $995. These are two excellent products with a loyal customer base. VisualMill Basic offers 3-axis, solids, surface, and STL milling and includes DXF, IGES, and other CAD imports, as well as a configurable post processor.

Bill Morgan of Vintage Industries has used VisualMill to machine more than 150 molds. He exports STL files from his CAD software and imports them into Magics Tooling for the creation of mold data. He then imports the STL data into VisualMill and machines it. He previously used MasterCAM but found VisualMill to be easier to use and more productive. Morgan said that he routinely produces precision data with resolution of up to 0.0025 mm (0.0001 inch) from STL models.

Products such as PowerMILL from Delcam, Surfcam from Surfware, and DeskProto from Delft Spline Systems also import STL data.

Industry Education Partnership

March 16, 2003

Filed under: education — Terry Wohlers @ 08:34

There is an on-going need for industry professionals and educators to exchange time and resources. In the areas of technology, engineering, and manufacturing education, industry professionals have so much to share. A few ideas: Guest lecturing to classes, hosting company tours, and providing ideas for lab projects. Meanwhile, with summer a few months away, educators have an excellent opportunity to gain industrial experience at a local company. This first-hand experience can spawn ideas and create new material for classroom and laboratory work.

If you are an instructor or professor, I urge you to seek out a company that is willing to employ you for the summer. If you are an engineer, technician, or manager from industry, don’t hesitate to explore options at secondary and postsecondary schools in your area. The satisfaction of contributing to the future of our youth can be incredibly rewarding.


March 7, 2003

Filed under: Internet — Terry Wohlers @ 16:51

Few Internet tools are as useful as Google. I don’t recall a day in recent weeks that I haven’t used it at least a few times. Whether it’s searching for a hotel in Osaka, a dive boat operator in Thailand, or red wines in South Africa, Google finds what I am looking for. It’s also helpful in finding the correct spelling of a person, place, or thing.

If you are looking for an image to use in a publication or presentation, click the Images tab and enter a name in the box. You will be surprised at what Google finds. Looking for news on a specific subject? Click the News tab and plug in the subject.

Some other search engines are good, but nothing compares to Google. It has found a permanent home at the top of my Favorites.

The Battle has Begun

March 3, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing,legal — Terry Wohlers @ 12:11

3D Systems announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against German company EOS GmbH. Its purpose, according to the announcement, is to stop the sale of laser sintering machines from EOS inside the U.S. EOS recently sold two of its machines to companies in the U.S. Friction between the two companies has been at a boiling point for years. 

In the announcement, 3D Systems said that the EOS machines are based on inventions developed, patented, and exclusively licensed by the University of Texas at Austin to 3D Systems. Meanwhile, EOS believes that it has the right to sell its machines in the U.S. because of an agreement with 3D Systems in 1997. That year, 3D acquired the EOS stereolithography business, paid the company $3.25 million, and granted EOS exclusive licenses to 3D’s patents relating to laser sintering.

As with most disputes, both parties believe they are right. It’s likely that a large amount of company time and money will be spent on the litigation—resources that would otherwise be focused on product and market development. Neither company has extra cash or employee time to burn, so in the end, it will be the customers that lose.