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3D Systems Updates Software Portfolio for Subtractive and Additive Manufacturing Solutions


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As autumn rolls in, September brings with it each year a slew of updates, announcements, and introductions from the latest smartphone and car models to the next year’s updates for software platforms. SOLIDWORKS 2018 was unveiled last week, and this week we’re hearing of more big-name updates for manufacturing software. Today at EMO Hannover 2017, 3D Systems announces the availability of Geomagic Control X 2018 inspection software and GibbsCAM 12 for CNC production. The company is demonstrating both this week in Hannover (hall 27, booth B69), alongside its precision metal manufacturing software, 3D printers, and materials.

“We continue to listen to customer feedback to provide the highest standard of excellence in additive and subtractive manufacturing solutions. Today’s introductions emphasize our continuing pursuit to deliver industry leading software that makes customers’ jobs easier – enabling them to be more productive with lower total cost of operations,” said Ilan Erez, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Software at 3D Systems.

Both releases are available now; in-app notifications will automatically show up under software maintenance for current customers of each to update to the latest platform.

For additional information, I spoke this morning to representatives from 3D Systems, with this information presented as an update to the originally published article.

At EMO Hannover, the 3D Systems team is presenting a story largely focusing on metal manufacturing, as metal 3D printing — such as with the company’s ProX DMP 320 — is taking off and drawing great interest across a variety of applications. Today’s announced releases echo the larger story 3D Systems is focusing on, Manufacturing Product Marketing Manager Chris MacBain and Scott Green, Director of Product Management, Software Business Unit, told me as we talked.

“Our overall story is around productivity and total cost of operations,” Green explained of where these updates fit into 3D Systems’ larger course of action.

Geomagic Control X 2018

3D Systems’ previous updates to its inspection and metrology software offerings have focused on responding to user needs and enhancing capabilities; this year, Geomagic Control X is building on these foundations to, the company notes, meet the demands of manufacturers working in the aerospace and automotive industries, addressing their unique requirements.

These updates were designed, Green told me, to directly address the issues users face in the field based on direct feedback of what could best address and solve a variety of real-world challenges. In manufacturing, any time spent not productive is generally regarded as money lost; enhancing productivity on an end-to-end basis remains a key focus in industry.

“We have been spending a lot more time vertically oriented to make sure we have fantastic software features for vertical industries; we’re developing this for our partners to solve problems in the field and making sure those guys are totally productive in solving problems they have in the day to day,” he said.

This time around, we have a huge update in productivity and efficiency. We’re working on some really cutting-edge proficiency now making its way into this release.”

Geomagic Control X has been known for tools with excellent ease of use qualities for its users, and these will remain; according to 3D Systems, the scanner-agnostic platform seen in the 2018 release “also provides integrated capabilities including simplified and automated airfoil analysis, surface-analysis tools to instantly identify corrosion and denting, and comparative analysis tools.” Legacy files from Geomagic Control 2015 can be imported now into Geomagic Control X 2018, enhancing user and project support qualities.

3D Systems notes new capabilities in Geomagic Control X 2018 as:

  • Up to 50% increase in efficiency path to inspection results
  • Greater performance in scan processing and evaluation
  • Automation and traceability
  • Unique measurement UX for portable probing devices

A key benefit of 3D software comes in the form of streamlining workflow; this update is intended to reduce calculation time by up to half, allowing for faster analysis during the inspection process. The speed of importing, aligning, and comparing is said to be the fastest on the market, while model-based Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) assignment workflows and fast scan-pair searching reduce times for model setup and evaluation. The platform’s updated architecture additionally allows for the more efficient creation of inspection models. Reports designed to be customizable and intuitive allow for efficient scanning, evaluation, and communication of inspection results. Automation comes into play through the automatic scan-pair searching that operates in the background during inspection.

“The engineers behind Geomagic Control X believe Live Inspect is the only measurement experience designed with natural interaction efficiency and operator comfort in mind,” the company says of the user experience.

As Green noted, the team spent a great deal of time enhancing average workflows and in advancing the capabilities of the software’s core algorithms. What they want, he said, is for customers to use Geomagic Control X software and say, “Wow, that’s incredibly fast.” Beyond the improvements to the platform itself, Green noted attention to surface analysis that should be of benefit to aerospace users, where “automated airfoil inspection will be great” and where airframes and surfaces subject to corrosion can be characterized.

GibbsCAM 12

GibbsCAM entered the 3D Systems product portfolio upon the 2015 acquisition of Cimatron, when the company looked to expand its advanced manufacturing offerings through the addition of complementary technologies. CNC and other subtractive manufacturing techniques are often utilized in tandem with additive manufacturing, and offering solutions for a broader array of technologies positions 3D Systems as a more inclusive provider to the overall manufacturing industry. The latest release of GibbsCAM redesigns the user experience to see up to a 30% increase in productivity from earlier versions.

MacBain explained that 3D Systems, while obviously a 3D-focused company, is dedicated to the entirety of the manufacturing process and maintains its product portfolio accordingly.

“These releases in the 3D Systems portfolio show our dedication to the entire workflow, from design to manufacturing to data collecting, scanning, checking, and validating,” he told me.

“Even though we developed GibbsCAM as a subtractive solution, we’re a 3D company too and we know that’s very important also. It’s important to develop GibbsCAM for the future, so we can enhance the 3D printing process by secondary machining, even hybrid machining.”

GibbsCAM 12 is CAM software for production manufacturing in high-end, Multi-Task Machining (MTM), mill/turn, and production manufacturing. This new release includes with it video training and curriculum for new and experienced users.

3D Systems notes new capabilities in GibbsCAM 12 as:

  • A unique interface designed specifically for CNC programming
  • In-house development of post-processors
    • Access to more than 15,000 proven, error-free post-processors along with ongoing additions and custom post-processors created to customers’ exact specifications, providing users with post-processors for virtually every machine/control combination on the market.
  • MTM programming capabilities
    • Programming capabilities for the most complex MTM and Swiss-style machines, including attachments such as part catchers, vises, tailstocks, and robots. In addition, the Universal Kinematic Machining (UKM) technology provides users with flexibility and configurability to tackle machines with any number of spindles and axes.
  • A single solution for all CNC machines

Because all CNC programmers and machinists have their own unique workflows, the new user interface allows for the capability for users “to program their parts, their way.” As a single solution, GibbsCAM offers a single user interface for parts and machines of any level of simplicity or complexity.

“Our tagline is we’re manufacturing the future. So we are focusing on streamlining that manufacturing for our entire customer line; both of these releases show that for our customers, I feel,” MacBain told me.


[This article updated from original to include direct input from Scott Green and Chris MacBain]

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