Connectivity is becoming more and more important for businesses that have adopted 3D printing – connectivity between multiple 3D printers in the same office, between printers in multiple office locations, between printers and computers, etc. As companies begin to implement the technology on a larger scale, many are choosing to create “printer farms,” which are much more efficient than standalone machines. Even most single 3D printers, however – particularly industrial ones – can benefit from Internet of Things capability.
IoT company PTC delivers that kind of connectivity through the ThingWorx platform, which enables direct sourcing of data from connected machines within factories or from third party businesses or engineering systems. Today, 3D Systems has announced that they plan to begin embedding ThingWorx within their 3D printers. The decision is part of a plan to shift away from prototyping and more towards 3D printed production, maximizing printer availability and productivity.
The platform will allow customers to create real time dashboards to monitor their 3D printers, and will also give 3D Systems visibility into the printers’ service requirements. The company will be able to remotely diagnose issues and even remotely repair the machines in some cases.
“We believe the capabilities enabled through ThingWorx technology can help us deliver the machine uptime required in production environments,” said Carol Zampell, Vice President, Software, 3D Systems. “This will enable our customers to gain a distinct business advantage through improved resource utilization, business insight, and overall gains in productivity.”
This isn’t the first time that 3D Systems has worked with PTC. 3D Systems previously integrated their 3D Sprint SDK with PTC’s Creo design software, enabling seamless transitions from CAD to print and incorporating a full set of print management tools.
“PTC has a long-standing relationship with 3D Systems, and we are excited to continue expanding the collaborative and innovative work by enabling their printers to be smart, connected products,” said Mike Campbell, Executive Vice President, ThingWorx Platform, PTC. “We support their vision to the business value and opportunity that exists in 3D printing as an industry, and the power the IoT can have in driving that further.”
“There are three things I look for [in a partner]. We need to have a common vision, in the company. I’m looking for a win-win partnership,” 3D Systems CEO Vyomesh Joshi told 3DPrint.com at IMTS in September. “The second thing is we need to have clarity in what we do and what the partner does. If we don’t have clarity, we trip on each other. The third thing is, it needs to be done all the way down from CEO to individual contributor. Then we will be able to really measure it and then look at why it’s going to help our customer. At the end of the day we are doing it for our customer, and because we are delighting the customer, it shows the economic value of the partnership, that’s how I think about it. This is what you saw with PTC, right? Jim [Heppelmann, President and CEO of PTC] and I, we just met two and a half months ago, and you can see how we immediately work together, to delight the customer. We can really make this thing work, this is the greatest example of how we build that partnership.”
PTC has been around for more than 30 years, and was the first company to market with Internet-based PLM in 1998. The company’s ThingWorx platform will be showcased this week by 3D Systems at the LiveWorx Technology Conference and Marketplace, which is taking place in Boston from today until May 25. Discuss in the ThingWorx forum at 3DPB.com.
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