It’s been a great year for Optomec. The 3D printer manufacturer happily announced in August that it has experienced explosive growth over the past year, and it seems things are only getting better. This week the company became the recipient of strategic investments by two major corporations, Autodesk and GE Ventures. The investment from Autodesk is part of the software company’s Spark Investment Fund, which it launched in 2014 to support young, promising additive manufacturing and 3D printing companies.
Optomec and Autodesk have worked together in the past; the former has taken advantage of Autodesk’s software tools to create design data for its printers. The two companies intend to continue to work together to develop software tools that more effectively connect hardware and software using Autodesk’s Spark Platform, also launched last year.
“The Spark Investment Fund aims to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing, and we believe a connected ecosystem between hardware and software is key in spurring innovation and collaboration,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer and 3D Printing, Autodesk. “We’re excited to have a shared vision with Optomec in enabling additive manufacturing technology to be seamlessly integrated into conventional production platforms to advance the overall design and fabrication process.”
Autodesk has been busy itself. Last year they released their 3D printer, Ember, based off of the Spark Platform. Now the company is releasing a new 3D printing package that includes several updates to the printer. These include updates in firmware that will improve printing speed, consistency and quality. Users will now be able to calibrate their Ember printers to an accuracy of +-25 microns in X and Y. All Ember printers that are currently shipping can be easily upgraded to the new firmware with the push of a button, but owners of the older Explorer Ember printers will need a special programmer unit, which can be ordered for free here.
Autodesk has also made it easier for Ember users to transition from design to fabrication using any Spark powered software, including Fusion 360, Inventor, 3ds Max and Revit. More software integration will be forthcoming as well. A few small hardware changes have been made, as well, such as a resin spill guard (Explorer users can download and print their own with help from an Instructable).
All new Ember purchases made from the website will include two additional resin trays (for four total) and a year’s subscription to Fusion 360.
Speaking of resins, Ember now has a larger variety of those, including Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, with White coming soon. They can be used in their pure form or mixed with other colors, and, for users who want a more translucent look, they can be combined with Autodesk standard clear.
Since the launch of Ember and Spark, Autodesk has continued to enthusiastically fan the 3D printing flames. Users, you’ve got a lot to keep you warm this winter. Discuss this story in the Autodesk, Ember & Optomec forum thread on 3DPB.com.