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We’ve written for some years that processors should learn as much as they can about rapid manufacturing: be it a competitor or a tool to help you gain more work, it definitely will impact processors’ business. Recent gains and news out of the RM world only emphasize this fact.

MPW Staff

October 1, 2009

2 Min Read
Rapid manufacturing powers ahead

  
At September’s National Manufacturing Show in Chicago, IL, for instance, Ronald Hollis, president and CEO at Quickparts.com (Atlanta, GA), in his presentation on “The Power of Online Manufacturing,” discussed how online manufacturing has evolved from just offering online instant quoting for custom designed parts, to more resemble a retail business model that integrates a front-end storefront with back-office software to help users to drive efficiency throughout sales, project management, and manufacturing. Online manufacturing starts with customers receiving instant quotes for their new product designs and ends with them receiving their parts.
 
According to rapid manufacturing guru Terry Wohlers, the pace of development in equipment for rapid manufacturing is still swift, with several companies in 2008 introducing new AM systems. EOS (Germany), Objet Geometries (Israel), Mcor Technologies (Ireland), MTT Technologies Group (England), and three U.S. companies—Optomec, 3D Systems, and Z Corp.—introduced new machines, he reports.

Wohlers says a new type of additive manufacturing service provider is targeting consumers. He cites the example of Shapeways, a Dutch company that is a part of Philips Electronics’ incubator program. The company, which launched in Q2 2008, allows customers to upload a design that Shapeways will manufacture using AM. The difference to what Quickpart.com has been doing is that Shapeways focuses entirely on the consumer market. Also, it offers a portfolio of “creator” tools that makes it easier for customers unfamiliar with conventional design tools to create custom products. Prices start as low as a few dollars.

Early this year the company opened its Shapeways Shops, a service that became available in January 2009, which allows artists, designers, or anyone to set up their own “storefront” to sell AM-produced products to the public. Shapeways handles the sales transaction, manufacturing, and shipment to the customer. All manufacturing is done by laser sintering, fused deposition modeling, PolyJet, or ProMetal. —[email protected]

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