Tag Archives: 3D Systems
3D Systems Stock Issue Hints at New M&A Activity
3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) today announced that, at its annual meeting held today, its stockholders approved an amendment to its Certificate of Incorporation to increase the authorized number of shares of Common Stock from 120,000,000 to 220,000,000.
“We are grateful to our stockholders for their support,” said Avi Reichental, President and Chief Executive Officer, 3D Systems. “This increase in our authorized shares restores our flexibility to use newly issued shares of our common stock for appropriate corporate purposes.”
What could those corporate purposes be? Likely more M&A. Last year, 3D Systems acquired a number of companies, including:
- Bespoke Innovations in May 2012 for 3D printed personalized prosthetics
- FreshFiber in May 2012 for 3D printed electronics accessories
- My Robot Nation in April 2012 for creative solutions to support 3D printing community Cubify for kids and adults
- Paramount Industries in April 2012 to advance aerospace and medical device 3D printing
$200 MakiBox 3D Printer is the Cheapest on the Market
The MakiBox 3D printer is the creation of 37-year-old Jon Buford, founder of Hong Kong-based startup Makible. Buford launched the company with $50,000 in seed funding and a round of pre-orders from a crowdfunding campaign. Makible’s 2013 goal is to hit $2 to $3 million in revenue.
Targeting Cost over Scale
MakiBox is attacking the low end of the market. While leading desktop 3D printers from MakerBot and 3D Systems range from $1,700 to $2,200, there has been a price war at the low end among dozens of Kickstarter projects and RepRap innovations. Makible is possibly the lowest priced 3D printer in the market.
To reduce the cost, the MakiBox is a smaller 3D printer. But it can still print objects as large as 14 iPhone 5s stacked in two columns.
A Visit to Makible in Hong Kong
Yesterday we dropped in on Elliot and Jon of Makible at their lab in Kwai Hing, Hong Kong, where a team is hard at work making what will likely be the world’s most affordable 3D Printer, the MakiBox. It will launch later this year for just $200 (as a kit).
Why does price matter? To get an idea of cost, at the moment Shapeways charges roughly $3 per cubic centimeter when the plastic itself costs less than $0.05. It wouldn’t take much printing before the Makibox pays itself off. However when you factor in shipping and turnaround time, you see the real advantage of having a desktop printer nearby. Not only that, but low cost itself enables new applications and markets such as in education and makes small batch production more affordable (e.g. it’s more practical to run a farm of 3D printers if the fixed costs are low.)
The video below shows a profile of Buford and Makible.
CC Image by cloneofsnake
Inside 3D Printing Conference
In a context that felt a bit like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, this week 3D printing went to New York for the first ever Inside 3D Printing Conference. Over two full days at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, a broad array of industry leaders, innovators, academics and analysts gave keynotes, led seminars, and showed off their latest products to over 3,000 conference attendees. For many in the crowd, this was a crash course on a technology that has been exploding in the public consciousness over the past two years, and for others it was a chance to network, hear from big names in the industry, and get a sense for where 3D printing will go next.
In a role that seemed fitting given his company’s leadership in the industry and status as the conference’s primary sponsor, 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental opened the conference with the declaration, “Complexity is free” in a 3D printed world. Never before, he underlined, has a manufacturing process been indifferent to geometric complexity, and to him this is the single biggest reason 3D printing will continue to grow and expand into sectors ranging from education to medical devices to automotive and aerospace.
Much of the conference’s focus was on these different segmentations of 3D printing, and breakout seminars throughout the two days took a deeper dive in a variety of subjects. Some of the more memorable seminars explored integrating 3D printers into K-12 education, topology optimization – a complex but very impressive design tool that appears to be a perfect match for 3D printing, consumer desktop and cloud 3D printing, and bioprinting human tissue for medical applications. Longtime industry analyst Terry Wohlers and Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen also gave keynote addresses highlighting their vision for the industry’s future.
Outside the seminar room the conference also had a distinctly hands-on element. A bustling exhibit hall hosted dozens of booths showing off a variety of consumer and enterprise 3D printers along with more curious technologies like 3D scanners and novel CAD input devices. 3D printing service companies were also eager to engage with potential customers, showing high quality parts available for remote ordering online.
While many sides of the industry were highlighted at the inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference this week, the underlying theme was very clear: while 3D printing technology may have existed in research labs and niche applications since the 1980s and ‘90s, it is only now beginning to truly change our lives in meaningful ways. And from the number of times speakers said “Nascent,” “Just the first inning,” or “Only scratching the surface” to describe the state of the industry, it is clear that insiders see the eventual impact that 3D printing will make on the world to be profound, far-reaching, and on a larger scale than most casual observers can imagine today.
Topology Optimization Key to Additive Manufacturing
Topology optimization, an industry term that Wikipedia defines as “A mathematical approach that optimizes material layout within a given design space,” could be a critical motivator to create industrial designs specifically for additive manufacturing. In a captivating presentation at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City, Jim Hassberger and Tony Norton from solidThinking explained how a technology inspired by bone structure research done over a century ago combined with the power of modern computing has led to a new way to optimize load-bearing structural designs.
The results of topology optimization are structures that have outward dimensions identical to normal load-bearing elements such as beams, yet have interior dimensions that look very different from traditionally manufactured parts. In place of triangular or circular voids, these parts have remarkably organic, almost bone-like shapes. The reason is, topology optimization software systematically analyzes the stresses on these shapes and then removes the most superfluous material from the design. This process is repeated over and over by the optimization software, and by the end the computer design leaves only a skeletal interior structure.
Image from compumod.com.au
So what makes these specially designed parts so special? Why design a part that is so complex? The advantage of parts made with topology optimization is that the same strength characteristics can be created with less material, and this yields a greater strength to weight ratio, an important property across most industries related to transportation. As a practical example, structural rib elements in an Airbus wing designed with topology optimization saved over 500kg in structural weight, which translates to significant cost savings.
The computing power to run topology optimization software became available in the 1990’s, but the technology did not spared as imagined by its creators. Reflecting on its limited success twenty years ago today, Mr. Hassberger and Mr. Norton note that the real difficulty wasn’t in designing parts, but in producing them. Three-dimensional designs created in such a way were often highly irregular with strange voids and curved interior surfaces, making them all but impossible to machine or cast using traditional manufacturing methods. And that’s why they are so excited to reintroduce the technology today. Additive manufacturing, a process in which “Complexity is free” according to 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental, makes producing these highly complex forms as easy as producing straight, right-angled beams.
While there is still some cost associated with adopting topology optimization, not least of which is a software license starting around $6000, a process that used to be “by PhDs for PhDs” and almost prohibitive to manufacture can now be incorporated into designs after only four hours of training and access to additive manufacturing. And as apparent proof of its value, these designs are already being incorporated into biomedical, Formula 1, UAV and traditional aerospace assemblies.
So will topology optimization be the latest catch phrase at the next Maker Faire you attend? Probably not. However it does promise to demonstrate to industry that additive manufacturing can bring even greater design optimization to existing products, and that is good news for everyone who hopes to see even wider adoption of this paradigm-shifting technology.
Authored by Brian H. Jaffe, founder of Mission St. Manufacturing and contributor to On 3D Printing.
Cover images from solidThinking.com
Inside 3D Printing Conference: Day 1
Day 1 of the Inside 3D Printing Conference was a big success, with great networking and inspiring speakers. Here are the top stories from Day 1.
“3D printing is in its Apple 1 moment,” said Brian Evans as he showed a photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (above). The first Apple 1 was just a circuit board. Customers had to build a plywood case around it. “Who knew that in 30 years we’d all be carrying iPhones?” Evans mused.
Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, opened this week’s inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City with the declaration “Complexity is free.”
3D Systems announced availability of Geomagic Design, a new suite of affordable CAD design solutions.
Two well-respected speakers in the medical 3D printing field presented today at the Inside 3D Printing conference on bioprinting.
In a demo at the Inside 3D Printing conference, Brian Evans exposed the complexity of low-cost, open-source consumer 3D design and 3D printing.