Materialise collaborates with PTC to make manufacturers Industry 4.0 ready

Software company PTC has teamed up with Belgium-based 3D printer market leader Materialise to expand the capabilities of its Creo CAD software.

Taking the form of a new software package, the collaboration will allow Creo users to integrate 3D printing into their manufacturing processes, with a special emphasis on metal additive manufacturing.

Part analysis in Creo. Image via PTC.Part-analysis in ThingWorx. Image via PTC.

Design with PTC, build with Materialise

The new PTC software package is intended for manufacturing end-use products and will be compatible with machines linked up to the Materialise Build Processor.

The Build Processor is a slicing feature of Materialise’s Magic 3D Print Suite, an all-encompassing 3D software bundle.

The enhanced connection between PTC CAD software and the Materialise Build Processor simplifies the integration of 3D printing for discrete manufacturers, making distinct items such as plane, cars and mobile phone.

The software package also includes Materialise’s support generation technology, which gives designers more control over the design and creation of metal support structures.

“This collaboration with PTC will expand access to 3D Printing and help engineers and designers think in terms of additive, rather than traditional manufacturing for rapid product design and development,” said Stefaan Motte, VP at Materialise Software.

“Together with Materialise, we will bridge the gap between CAD design software and the 3D printing machines,” added Brian Thompson, senior VP at PTC. 

A Chain Dress prepared for slicing in the materialise build processor. Image via Materialise.A chain-dress prepared for slicing in the Materialise build processor. Image via Materialise.

Integrating CAD, 3D printing and IoT with PTC

Materialise integration is the latest in a number of software integration agreements made by PTC to facilitate interaction between software and hardware.

In May 2017, 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems announced that it was embedding intelligent features powered by PTC’s ThingWorx industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform into its machines, allowing users to monitor prints in real time.

Later that year, PTC integrated ANSYS simulation into its ThingWorx platform, allowing customers to both analyze the part manufacturing process and predict the component’s performance based on the design and a set of parameters.

Let us know what you think the most important 3D software release has been this year.Make your nominations for the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2018 now.

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Featured image shows functional end-use part design in Creo. Photo via PTC.

Valve Collaborates with Fans Through New Shapeways 3D Printing Licensing Agreement

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3D printing has allowed gamers and fans everywhere to create their own figurines and accessories based on their favorite games, and to do so relatively easily. As we all know, the 3D printing world is full of murkiness when it comes to patent laws and copyright infringement, but Valve, the company behind games such as Half-Life and Portal, has decided to fully embrace the idea of fan-created merchandise. Today, the company announced a new licensing agreement with Shapeways, one that will allow Shapeways creators to sell their own 3D printed merchandise and accessories based on Valve’s games.

In addition to game-related merchandise, makers can even design, 3D print and sell accessories and modifications for hardware such as the Steam Controller and Steam Link.

“For Shapeways designers, this means that the Valve and Steam game communities will now have access to your products, and you can advertise and promote your Valve-related products anywhere you like,” states Shapeways.

Sniper from DOTA 2 by designer Bilal Khan of Miniature Den

Designers will be able to license their products through Shapeways, and when the products sell, Shapeways will automatically deduct 10% royalties, which will go directly to Valve, for any game-related merchandise sold. No royalties will be deducted for accessories or modifications created for Steam hardware.

“Shapeways is excited to enable our design community to fully explore their passion for the Valve universe. Never before has it been so easy for designers and fans to make physical objects based on their favorite games,” said Tom Finn, Interim CEO of Shapeways. “We’re thrilled that Valve has decided to embrace and empower its fan community in this way, and we’re confident it will pave the way for a new movement in companies engaging with fandoms.”

Portal 2 Companion Cube Pendant by designer Shane Smith of Sandman Artistry

3D printing has a lot of big companies worried about intellectual property theft, and some major corporations have gone out of their way to make sure that their merchandise can’t be reproduced – for example, Disney, which filed a patent application for a reflective material that would make its figurines harder to 3D scan and 3D print. Who knows whether anything will ever come of that patent application – it was met by the maker community with quite a bit of amusement and observations that reflective surfaces can easily be countered with a bit of talcum powder – but it shows the concern that companies are experiencing about 3D scanning and 3D printing among fans.

Look at any 3D model repository, and you’ll find plenty of movie- or video game-related merchandise, and for the most part, you don’t see giant entertainment corporations launching lawsuits against the makers creating that merchandise – there’s just too much stuff out there. But with a licensing agreement like this one, Valve can both capitalize on the popularity of its games in the 3D printing world and work directly with its fans, who will have no need to fear takedown notices.

Portal Companion Cube by Andrew Bougie

It will be interesting to see if other companies form similar partnerships with 3D printing marketplaces like Shapeways. By giving fans the opportunity to license their own game-inspired creations, the agreement allows those fans to more freely advertise their work – and there’s some great work out there. I’ve always thought that it’s wiser for companies to take a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to 3D printed content based on their products. That’s essentially what the music industry did through services like Spotify, and Valve may end up being a leader in a new approach to fan-generated 3D printed merchandise – one that works with fans rather than fighting against them.

Fans can still opt out of the licensing agreement, and Valve reserves the right to remove any licenses it doesn’t feel are appropriate. Shapeways has started a Valve hub where members can showcase their Valve-related creations, and several makers have already begun displaying their work.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: Shapeways]

London-Based PrintME 3D Collaborates on 3D Printed Shanghai Windows Project Installation

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There is something truly magical about art and architecture installations in urban settings that complement, comment on, or even disrupt usual fast-paced or even hyper kinetic city life. These installations command us to stop for a moment and view something new in a backdrop we may be all too accustomed to. This is what the RIBA Shanghai Windows Project is all about; taking routine backdrops, such as the front of a well-known major building, or a store front at a mall, and transforming it with art or architectural installations to enhance the visual appeal of routine urban spaces.

London-based PrintME 3D is a multi-service clearinghouse for all things 3D printing related, including: printing services and sales of printers, scanners, filaments and other essentials for home, education, and business sectors.  It has recently had the opportunity to collaborate with London based architecture firm, Urban Systems, on an installation for the RIBA Shanghai Windows Project. This installation, called ‘Urban Nature’,  is on display in the Xintiandi district of Shanghai, and following the theme of the Shanghai Windows Project, it was designed to highlight how our urban environments have a dynamic and fluid nature.

One popular interpretation of the contemporary city is that although constituted as a built environment, it really has an “ecology” of its own as it is shaped by the flows of human culture andusollp_ph7_5 interaction. This is also the idea behind the RIBA Shanghai Windows Project; Xintiandi is Shanghai’s premier fashion, art, and shopping district, and so it’s a perfect target for a installation project such as this one.

Urban Systems followed this view of the city as shaped by flows of human culture, and it created a structure at the entrance of a Xintiandi Style mall storefront that reflects the design philosophy of the retail store PH7. According to PrintME 3D’s Tribe Life blog description of the project, “Urban Systems started with PH7’s design ethos which is inspired by the forces of nature. Urban Systems designed a structure that is sculpted by the circulation and views around the entrance of the store at its particular location at the Xintiandi Style mall.”

usollp_ph7_4

Once the design was completed digitally, the installation was 3D printed by Printme 3D on Bq Witbox 3D Printers using low-cost bio-degradable plastic made from renewable resources, with the two colors achieved using two different materials. One material was a clear thermoplastic and the other had natural bamboo fibres mixed in. The installation uses a small number of families of different components to create the internal variation in the textured imagery. This limitation on the variety of printed components reduced the number of customized pieces and simplified the assembly process too. It also keeps the focus, in my view, less on all of the dramatic differences between the individual pieces and more on how each piece contributes to the larger whole. Kind of like residents of a city.

The end result is both subtle and transformative.  I can imagine from a distance if you do not expect to see the installation, it can be rather surprising as well. It looks like a swarm of something has taken over the storefront, and it has. It’s a swarm of plastic 3D printed components that alone are nothing special, but when placed together, they create a moving and fluid sculpture intended to reflect energetic relations between humans and their environments in an urban context.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this installation in the 3D Printed Shanghai Windows Project forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3D Systems Collaborates with UNYQ for Innovative Products

Leading provider of 3D digital design and fabrication solutions, 3D Systems Corporation (DDD Analyst Report) recently entered into a multilayer partnership with prosthetic fashion giant UNYQ. The collaboration aims to introduce advanced 3D printing technologies to the prosthetics and orthotics industries. The partnership will unfold sequentially with UNYQ integrating prosthetic fairings of 3D Systems into its own portfolio, followed by the launch of an orthotic product line later this year.

Inside the Headlines

This partnership heralds encouraging news for amputee patients as it amalgamates 3D Systems’ extensive prosthetic and orthotic portfolio with UNYQ’s highly efficient and cost-effective production techniques. Moreover, UNYQ’s solid go-to-market approach will perfectly complement the robust manufacturing expertise of 3D Systems, helping the latter to commercialize its customized prosthetic fairings, braces and casts. This collaboration will also witness exchange of intellectual property, with UNYQ becoming the chosen partner for 3D Systems and aiding it in marketing personalized prosthetic products like fairings, braces and casts.

3D Systems has been making concerted efforts to enhance its market share in prosthetic orthotic and orthopedic industry since 2012, when it had acquired Bespoke Innovations, a popular provider of cutting-edge technology in prosthetic equipments. With the latest joint venture, UNYQ and 3D Systems not only aspire to commercialize many of Bespoke’s original designs, but also develop new products by leveraging 3D Systems’ personalized scoliosis braces.

In Conclusion

As one out of 200 individuals is reportedly an amputee, the new partnership is set to usher a new era for these patients by allowing them an easy access to life-enhancing devices and personalized cosmetic prosthesis at affordable prices. Moreover, we believe that groundbreaking medical solutions represent lucrative business opportunities for companies investing in them. Hence, developing life-enhancing medical solutions for patients will eventually help 3D Systems improve its market share, going forward.  

3D Systems currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the technology sector include Exar Corp. (EXAR Analyst Report), Amkor Technology, Inc. (AMKR Analyst Report) and Apple Inc. (AAPL Analyst Report), each sporting a Zack Rank #1 (Strong Buy).