3D Systems have won an award as Global Digital Manufacturing leader, for the second year in a row. Winning the prize, voted for by Design World Magazine readers, for a second year proves that 3D Systems really are leading the way and are doing more than anyone else to move forward 3D printing and manufacturing at the cutting edge.
While it is left to other companies to perhaps make the latest 3D printing and rapid prototyping technology more than a niche offering it is 3D Systems that are developing the latest techniques and transforming 3D printing technology from a technology only suitable for rapid prototyping services, where they were used to make models and prototypes, to a process that can be used for manufacturing.
3D Systems’ technology is primarily used in other cutting edge industries for manufacturing where the detail in a design is vital and where unique one off or low run pieces are being made. 3D systems 3D printing technology has until recently therefore rarely been used for rapid prototyping services, though the process does make it easier to go back and change parts that aren’t working as required. Such techniques are highly useful in aerospace, marine engineering and other high tech industries where 3D Systems technology is most used.
Recently though 3D Systems have bought out more small and enterprise and personal 3D printers for use in a business or even at home, these though remain ideal for manufacturing usable parts though are practical for rapid prototyping services as well.
Defense, automotives and healthcare are also areas where making one off parts is common and where accuracy and weight are vital. In aerospace for example parts must be strong yet light and 3D Systems’ printers can print with such detail that the structure of a part can be made with a minute honeycomb structure to give strength while saving on weight: no other manufacturing process can get the same level of internal detail. This is because like all 3D printing parts are built up in layers from the bottom up, 3D Systems’ techniques, including the multi jet modeling techniques they have developed, leave no residue and micron perfect manufacturing.
3D Systems have also developed the technology and standards required to make 3D printing, be it for manufacturing or rapid prototyping services, a simple process with the minimum number of steps between 3D CAD design and printing. This includes 3D Systems’ development of the .stl file format that can now be used with many competitors’ machines and Alibre design tools that ensure that designs are made 3D print ready with no file conversion issues.
3D Systems also have a sub brand, QuickParts; 3D systems purchased QuickParts in early 2011, QuickParts offers a service to quickly make custom parts for customers without direct access to a 3D printer or other manufacturing techniques. Although they do offer other manufacturing methods, including for longer runs, 3D printing is becoming increasingly popular due to cost, quality and turnaround time for parts that are ordered and made using 3D System’s technology.