Nov 7, 2017 | By Benedict

3D Systems has unveiled a range of new 3D printing offerings in stereolithography, powder bed metal printing, and selective laser sintering. The products include the SLA-style Figure 4 3D printing platform, DMP 8500 Factory Solution, and ProX SLS 6100 laser sintering solution.

As one of the biggest and most established names in the industry, South Carolina-based company 3D Systems grabs the attention of the additive world when it announces any new product or solution.

In September 2016, 3D Systems announced a comprehensive new strategy: to evolve the company from a prototyping specialist to a production leader, by incorporating 3D printing systems into factory infrastructures and creating hardware and software that would allow big companies to implement additive manufacturing into their workflow.

Now, a little over a year since that announcement was made, 3D Systems has offered its clearest message of how it plans to make that vision a reality.


Figure 4: a modular, scalable 3D printing platform for plastic parts

Heading these announcements are 3D Systems' production systems for plastic parts, the Figure 4. We’ve known about Figure 4 3D printing platform for some time, with the company showcasing a Figure 4 demonstrator last year. In March of this year, 3D Systems revealed how the entire 3D printing platform would look, and the company has today announced the immediate availability of the additive solution.

The Figure 4 system is based on (and named after) drawings made by 3D Systems CTO Chuck Hull around the time he created stereolithography. In its new and realized form, Figure 4 denotes a modular, scalable platform that produces small, plastic parts “with up to 15x throughput improvements versus competitive offerings and up to 20 per cent lower part cost than current manufacturing processes.”

Figure 4 incorporates “high speed digital molding,” a 3D printing process that speeds and simplifies the production of plastic parts. It comes, appropriately, in four different versions: Production, a scalable, automated system with integrated post-processing and automated material delivery; Modular, an upgradable and affordable system that includes automated materials handling and centralized post-processing; Standalone, an industrial-grade single-engine solution for low-volume production and rapid functional prototyping; and Dental, a single-engine 3D printer with centralized post-processing designed for dental production, prototyping, and sacrificial casting.

All of these systems come bundled with 3D Systems' 3D Sprint and 3D Connect software. 3D Sprint handles all aspects of 3D print preparation, while 3D Connect is a new cloud-based solution that “delivers proactive and predictive serviceability for production environments.”

In addition to the systems themselves, 3D Systems is also launching a range of 15 new materials made for use on Figure 4 machines. These materials can be printed quickly, and are curable with bright light.

Standalone Figure 4 configurations will start at around $25,000, with highly customized, in-line production systems available for over $1 million.


DMP 8500 Factory Solution for metal additive manufacturing

Joining the Figure 4 in 3D System's extensive portfolio is the DMP 8500 Factory Solution for a more conventional production process: metal 3D printing. The DMP 8500 Factory Solution is 3D Systems’ attempt to provide users with repeatable, high-quality parts with a lower total cost of operation. It offers one of the largest metal build sizes in the industry, being able to fabricate metal parts up to 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm in size. (The Concept Laser X LINE 2000R has a 800 x 400 x 500 mm build area.)

The DMP 8500 Factory Solution comprises various elements, including Removable Print Modules (RPMs) for powder and part transport, Printer Modules, Powder Management Modules (PMMs) for de-powdering build platforms and recycling unused powder, and Transport Modules for moving the RPMs around.

The DMP 8500 Factory Solution will integrate 3D Systems' 3DXpert software, and is set for a Q4 2018 release.


ProX SLS 6100 nylon 3D printer and materials

Next up is 3D System’s new ProX SLS 6100 nylon 3D printing solution for fabricating larger production-grade parts. The system is accompanied by three new production-grade nylon materials, as well as software and cloud-based services that together made up a complete SLS 3D printing package.

The new nylon 3D printing materials include DuraForm ProX FR1200, which “delivers FAR 25.853 compliance, meeting the flame retardancy thresholds required by the aerospace market for interior cabin parts”; DuraForm ProX EX BLK, a durable nylon 11-based plastic derived from renewable non-petrochemical resources; and DuraForm ProX AF+, an aluminum- and mineral-filled nylon 12.”

Like Figure 4, the ProX SLS 6100 system works with 3D Sprint and 3D Connect.


Three-year contract with BMW

The final big announcement from 3D Systems is a new three-year contract with automotive giant BMW, which will see 3D Systems producing 3D printed parts for the car company.

These 3D printed parts will largely be made using 3D Systems’ stereolithography 3D printing systems, and will be finished with painting, dying, and tumbling processes. In addition to 3D printing functional interior and exterior test parts for BMW, 3D Systems will also fabricate 3D printed tools and fixtures.

One of the 3D printing materials to be used during the collaboration will be DuraForm HST Composite fiberglass-filled plastic, an engineering plastic with excellent stiffness and high temperature resistance, for powertrain and under-the-hood applications.


And the rest

As part of its mammoth announcement, 3D Systems also discussed a new partnership with Sanmina, a global manufacturing solutions provider that will now provide manufacturing services for Figure 4.

The company also offered a brief description of its forthcoming FabPro 1000, an “entry-level production printer created for engineers and designers, as well as jewelry artisans and fabricators.” The printer, which “easily fits on a desktop,” will be priced at under $5,000.

In addition to the new materials created for Figure 4 and the company’s new SLS solution, 3D Systems says it is releasing a range of new rigid and engineering-grade materials for its MultiJet Printing (MJP) platform.

Finally, 3D Systems also announced the introduction of 3D Systems Professional Services, which will “deliver a range of offerings, from consultative services to implementation and uptime services.”

“We believe these announcements change the game for our customers and the industry by providing customized solutions to help customers overcome obstacles to adopting additive manufacturing,” said Vyomesh “VJ” Joshi, president and CEO of 3D Systems. “We believe the innovation and capabilities we are announcing today will significantly accelerate our strategy to help customers move from prototyping to production.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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