Sep 12, 2016 | By Benedict

3D Systems is today unveiling a new strategy, new solutions, new partnerships, and an updated management team in order to help its additive manufacturing customers transition from prototyping to production. The announcements will be made by President and CEO Vyomesh Joshi at IMTS 2016.

3D Systems President and CEO Vyomesh Joshi

Most industry experts admit that the consumer 3D printer market has failed to live up to the hype once attributed to it, with the 2014 vision of a 3D printer in every household seeming a lot closer then than it does today. But while some big 3D printing companies are now shying away from the consumer market—3D Systems abandoned its Cube 3D printer at the tail-end of 2015—many of those companies are now redoubling their efforts to crack the industrial market.

3D Systems has made big changes in recent times in order to tackle the troubles facing the 3D printing industry. The appointment of new President and CEO Vyomesh Joshi in April marked a major turning point for the company, and Joshi will today outline his vision for the company: a move away from prototyping—once seen as the bedrock of 3D printing—and towards end-use production. As part of this strategy, 3D Systems has announced a partnership with software giant PTC, the launch of its 3DXpert software for direct metal 3D printing, and several other changes.

3D Systems' launch event coincides with the opening of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago. During the event, Joshi will explain why he believes 3D printing is at a critical juncture. "Rapid prototyping was the original application for 3D printing and will continue to be an important part of our business," Joshi commented in a press release. "However, we believe we have the technology and assets today to make 3D production real and provide profitable growth for our company.”

As part of 3D Systems’ plan to become the go-to company for production-ready 3D printing systems, Joshi will today explain how the company’s additive manufacturing ecosystem is capable of enabling customers to digitize, design, simulate, manufacture, inspect, and manage as they make the shift from rapid prototyping to end-use production using 3D printing technology.

One of the major areas of 3D Systems’ new business direction will be its approach to collaboration. The company will today announce a new partnership with PTC, a U.S. computer software company specializing in 2D and 3D design. Jim Heppelmann, PTC's President and CEO, will join Joshi on stage at IMTS to explain how the two companies are working together to integrate 3D Systems' 3D Sprint SDK into PTC's flagship Creo CAD platform. The collaboration will provide Creo users with seamless CAD-to-print functionality as well as a full set of print management tools.

"Partnering with 3D Systems allows our users to take full advantage of the power of 3D printing and work seamlessly from digital design to physical part," said Heppelmann. "The 3D Sprint SDK integration into Creo is just the beginning of what our two companies can accomplish across the digital manufacturing value-chain.”

Another key part of 3D System’s latest announcement will involve demonstrating the latest features of Figure 4, the company’s modular Stereolithography production (SLA) system which gives manufacturers the ability to make plastic parts on the factory floor with relatively little human assistance. With print speeds up to 50 times faster than conventional systems, and with the ability to integrate with secondary processes such as finishing and coating, Figure 4 could become a viable alternative to injection molding.

3D Systems' Figure 4 production system

3D System’s Figure 4 SLA production system can now incorporate automatic, in-line inspection of parts for closed-loop manufacturing. The system can now also generate real-time, detailed reports with go/no-go feedback while carrying out part inspection and measurement. This process gives users immediate confidence in part compliance while enabling highly diversified production.

Another important update from 3D Systems concerns the company’s new 3DXpert software for Direct Metal Printing. The all-in-one software solution makes metal 3D printing simple by collating all necessary software features into one package, removing the need for multiple applications made by different developers. Data importing, geometry optimization, lattice creation, scan-path calculation, build platform arrangement, printing, and (when necessary) subtractive machining can all be controlled through the 3DXpert platform.

According to 3D Systems, 3DXpert lets users save valuable time and maintain greater flexibility on change handling with history-based parametric CAD tools, with the platform able to handle various geometries (STL, Surfaces, Solid). One of its most helpful features is an automatic weight-saving and material reduction feature, enabled by Volume Representation (V-Rep) technology, which automatically creates micro lattice geometries within an object. This feature can be used to turn a solid shape into a partially hollow structure which retains the highest possible level of strength. The software also enables optimal printing strategies to be assigned to different areas of a part and automatically fuses separately assigned zones into a single scan-path, reducing print time while maintaining part integrity.

3D Systems' 3DXpert software will simplify the direct metal printing process

While Joshi himself is a relatively new addition to the 3D Systems team, the President and CEO will be announcing further appointments as part of the new 3D Systems business plan. The company will now operate with a framework centered around regional execution teams, and Joshi has brought in several new management figures to oversee this change. Along with new CFO John McMullen, the new faces—who have each worked with Joshi before—will bring experience in managing organizations structured in a similar, regionally divided fashion.

Some of the new faces joining the 3D Systems management team include Herbert Koeck, SVP, Go-to-Market, EMEA; Christopher Morgan, SVP, Go-to-Market, Americas and APAC; Jim Ruder, SVP, General Manager, Plastics; Phil Schultz, SVP, On Demand Solutions; Doug Vaughan, SVP, Marketing and Demand Generation; and Reinhard Winkler, SVP, Supply Chain.

"Our new management team combines the talent and domain knowledge of our existing leadership with new additions who have proven success in executing a regional operating framework that balances growth, capital and operational excellence," said Joshi. "With this world-class team, I strongly believe we can capitalize on opportunities in global markets and create value for our customers, partners and shareholders.”

With Joshi expecting the shift from prototyping to production to take two to three years, time will tell whether the changes made by 3D Systems are enough to effect a major transition in the use of 3D printing technology amongst its current and potential customer base. However, with major companies like GE investing huge amounts of money in production-ready additive manufacturing specialists, and with industry-level additive manufacturing racing ahead of consumer-level printing, the signs suggest that the company is heading in the right direction.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Fabricio M wrote at 9/20/2016 5:25:00 AM:

Pls call him as VJ ! This sir it is a Mith on Printing Business.

I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/13/2016 8:46:38 AM:

Want to move from proto to production? make the materials and machines cheaper. Making them faster and more expensive at the same time doesn't help.

Rick R wrote at 9/13/2016 5:31:12 AM:

I saw the 3D exhibit at the Imts show today. I was impressed by the examples they showed. It was a real, useful application of 3D printing. It seems that the applications shown had actual financial benignity and we're not just neet parlor tricks.

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