3D Printers

3D Printing with FDM: How it Works

A 3D printer is a machine that creates objects from plastic or other materials using an additive manufacturing process. Additive manufacturing produces objects in a succession of layers from the bottom, up. This is the opposite of traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, which produce objects by cutting material away from a block to create the shape desired. The term 3D printer was a trademark of Stratasys Inc, which, in 1999, the company allowed to enter the public domain and become a generic industry term.

A 3D printer simplifies and accelerates the process of making prototypes and finished goods. The 3D printing process is so easy and yet so powerful that both home-based businesses and Fortune 500 companies count on it. Installations range from a single machine in a hobbyist’s basement to manufacturing centers with dozens of systems. 

How does a 3D printer work? Beginning with computer-aided design (CAD) data, which defines a tool path, the 3D printer extrudes and deposits molten thermoplastic in layers to build the part from the bottom up. This makes very complex parts easy to produce.

Stratasys manufactures several lines of machines, including 3D printers and their big brothers, 3D production systems (or production 3D printers). This includes the product lines Dimension, uPrint, and Fortus as well as Hewlett Packard’s Designjet line. At the core of each system is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). Stratasys FDM machines create functional parts by extruding and depositing thermoplastic materials in layers.

This guide will walk you step by step through the FDM process.

3D Systems’ 2014 Investor & Analyst Day Highlights

ROCK HILL, South Carolina –June 16, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) hosted an investor and analyst day last week and today recaps key highlights:

2014 guidance update. With the acquisition of Medical Modeling and the imminent closing of the acquisition of 70% of Robtec, the company raised revenue guidance by $15 million, expecting 2014 revenue to be in the range of $695 million to $735 million. EPS guidance for 2014 remained unchanged in the range of $0.73 to $0.85 non-GAAP earnings per share, even after a roughly 6% increase in the company’s share-count from its recent equity raise. Steady EPS guidance reflects accretion of recent acquisitions to earnings and underscores confidence in expected gross profit margins expansion and the anticipated resumption of operating leverage in the second half of 2014.

3D Printing Set to Support SISSA’s Research Needs

The arrival of a new 3D printer from 3D Systems marks the start of a “mechatronic” age at SISSA, the International School for Advanced Studies based in Trieste, Italy. The School is focused on conducting leading-edge scientific research and educating post-graduate students in new research programs.

The new laboratory being set up using 3D printers from 3D Systems will enable SISSA researchers to be increasingly self-sufficient in designing and constructing experiments, and building specialized machinery needed for their studies. With this sophisticated equipment, including a new‐generation ProJet 3510 multi-jet 3D printer, and the laboratory’s expertise, scientists will no longer have to adapt their research to the constraints of existing technology but will be able to work more creatively, developing technology that fits their needs better. “We have the opportunity for virtually endless creative possibilities,” comments Marco Gigante, the engineer in charge of 3D design at SISSA’s new Mechatronics Laboratory.

The laboratory, headed by Mathew Diamond, a neuroscientist and coordinator of the Neuroscience Area of SISSA in Trieste, combines the fields of mechanics, electronics and informatics and supports all the research projects carried out within SISSA, a virtually unique center among Italian scientific research institutions. “Many experiments conducted by our research scientists rely on experimental setups that are designed in great detail and controlled electronically with extreme precision,” explains Fabrizio Manzino, in charge of the laboratory’s software development. “The research scientists come to us and we work together on the experimental setup until we’re ready to construct the machinery in all its parts."

3D Systems and SME Announce M.Lab21 to Transform Career and Technical Education

ROCK HILL, South Carolina – June 11, 2014 –3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and SME announced a collaborative initiative to enhance high school industrial arts and vocational education classes through the new M.Lab21 initiative. This program will offer starter kits to transform shop classes and incorporate additive manufacturing into curriculums.

”This new initiative is exactly the type of program that will help prepare students to compete in the 21st century,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Too many young people still do not understand that a career in manufacturing can be challenging, rewarding, and noble way to earn a good living. By connecting manufacturers directly with schools, we can work to change these perceptions, and get students excited about the manufacturing jobs of the future.” The full keynote introducing M.LAB21 is available here.

3DS will provide starter kits with the latest 3D design and printing technology, including the Touch haptic, Sense 3D scanner, advanced prosumer desktop printers, and a suite of Cubify design software. SME will work with industry experts to identify the knowledge and skills necessary for the next generation workforce and develop the curriculum based on those needs.

3D Systems’ Fab-Grade 3D Printers Break The Speed Barrier Surpassing Traditional Injection Molding

ROCK HILL, South Carolina –June 10, 2014 – 3D Systems  (NYSE:DDD) announced today that its fab-grade 3D printers effectively matched and exceeded the productivity of traditional injection molding in the direct manufacture of functional parts. This breakthrough opens up the possibility of just-in-time, high volume, flexible additive manufacturing using the company’s precision Stereolithography (SLA®) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS®) advanced manufacturing printers, enabling manufacturers to produce functional, precision parts in seconds, without the need for tooling or a lengthy supply chain.

3DS’ SLA, the gold standard in 3D printing, was the first to revolutionize product development and prototyping, followed by the introduction of 3DS’ SLS, which transitioned many customers firmly into the direct manufacturing of functional parts. Today’s announced production speed records are shifting the manufacturing paradigm again: from low volume production to high volume direct manufacturing of complex parts across a range of use cases and industries.

3D Systems Unveils 3D printed Bespoke™ Braces for Chronic Condition Scoliosis

ROCK HILL, South Carolina –June 9, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that it has successfully completed a pilot program for its new Bespoke™ Braces, a first of its kind, personalized, 3D printed brace for children and young adults with scoliosis. In the Bespoke process, a prototype ‘check-socket’ brace is fitted to each patient, and, when considered correct, it is digitized to create a digital reference underlay.  Once digital, the brace is further manipulated and adjusted as needed, and 3D printed using 3DS’ selective laser sintering (SLS) technology for optimal comfort, flexibility and durability.

3DS’s personalized medical device team working in collaboration with Dr. James Policy, MD of Stanford University and Robert Jensen, CPO, tested 22 patients at Children’s Hospital of Oakland. Across the board, patients responded favourably to the enhanced aesthetics of the brace as never before seen with traditional braces, and reported strong levels of wear and compliance.

3D Systems and Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. Join Forces to Accelerate 3D Printing Adoption

ROCK HILL, South Carolina –June 5, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that it has entered into a strategic alliance with Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta) to distribute its complete 3D printing product portfolio through Konica Minolta’s nationwide network of dealers and authorized resellers, as well as its direct sales channel. This relationship marks Konica Minolta as the first original equipment manufacturer to sell, support and service 3D printing products through the traditional printer and office equipment channel in the United States.

Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. is a leader in enterprise content management, technology optimization and cloud services with solutions that help organizations improve their speed to market, manage technology costs, and facilitate the sharing of information to increase productivity.

3D Systems Delivers 3D Printed Whale Fossil To Smithsonian Institution

ROCK HILL, South Carolina – June 6, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that the Smithsonian Institution has installed its first major 3D printed piece for its 3D digitization program: a prehistoric whale fossil that was 3D scanned and printed. 3DS, in collaboration with the Smithsonian, provided its 3D technology for 3D scan processing and printing as part of its ground-breaking multi-year partnership with Smithsonian Institution to showcase 3D printing services and technology at the National Museum of Natural History.

3DS has helped establish Smithsonian X 3D (3d.si.edu), a website where visitors can follow the 3D printing revolution and experience the new opportunities it presents in manufacturing, research, and education, as well as interact and download free STLs from the collection. The centerpiece of the collection, the Chilean whale fossil shown in this video, measures 20 feet in length, and after being 3D printed was finished and mounted bringing it to museum visitors just as it was discovered in the desert. The complete collection also includes approximately 20 additional artifacts and objects, each 3D printed and ranging in size from about 12 inches in overall length, width, and height to 36 inches in overall dimensions.

3D Systems Brings 3DPRINTING 2.0 to China’s International Die and Mould Expo (DMC) 2014

ROCK HILL, South Carolina –June 2, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that it will bring its personal and professional 3D printing products with its 3D authoring software tools to China's International Die and Mould Technology and Equipment Expo (DMC) at Shanghai International Expo Center, E1 – E6 Hall, booth E2 #B075, Shanghai, June 4 – 7, 2014.

3DS plans to demonstrate its powerful 3D design-to-manufacturing products that are specifically designed for the production floor and the engineer’s desktop. The company invites attendees to experience the first and only professional full-color plastic 3D printer, try its fab-grade multi-materials 3D printer, and see the output of its latest direct metal 3D printers, all capable of printing fully functional parts and assemblies and available for immediate purchase.

3D Systems Hosts Customer Webinar on 3D Printing for Turbine Manufacturing

ROCK HILL, South Carolina – May 30, 2014 – 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today its latest live webinar featuring Wisconsin-based Turbine Technologies, a provider of laboratory turbine equipment for colleges. The webinar, to be held on Thursday June 5, 2014 at 11.00 am EDT, will demonstrate how Turbine Technologies gains an advantage by 3D printing investment casting wax patterns to create an R&D process that doesn’t rely on expensive tooling.

Hosted by 3DS, the webinar will enable manufacturers to understand how Turbine Technologies has cut five weeks of development time from production of its wax casting patterns, at a tenth of the cost it used to be, using 3DS’ ProJet® 3500 3D printers as a critical part of the process.


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