A lot can happen in one year, and as we look back at 2017, it’s remarkable to note just how much happened in the 3D printing world. The large number of 3D printer releases demonstrates how quickly the 3D printing world is expanding, but we wouldn’t have much luck with 3D printers without 3D software, and the software side of things had plenty of new releases and upgrades in 2017 as well. 3D printers tend to get more attention when they’re released, but software is just as important for our 3D printing needs, and the many updates, upgrades, and new programs that were introduced this year are now helping us to print faster, better, and more reliably. Here are a few of the new introductions we saw in 2017.
Carbon released the latest version of its software in November, featuring new FEA-backed tools. Users of Treatstock got new IP protection, and LulzBot rolled out a new Cura LulzBot edition. Several new medical software updates were unveiled at RSNA 2017. Trade shows are always hotbeds of new releases, and formnext was no exception, with new software from EOS as well as the GrabCAD Voxel Print software solution from Stratasys. Sculpteo introduced Fabpilot, developed for production, and also at formnext, EnvisionTEC introduced the Perfactory Software Suite. Materialise unveiled Magics 22, the latest version of its popular 3D printing data preparation software, and its new metal offering, e-Stage Metal, at the show as well.
In September, Ultimaker announced a whole new software strategy designed to make workflow simpler, and a couple of months later began following through on it with the release of Cura Connect and Ulimaker Cura 3.0. 3D Systems introduced its 3D Connect software, and Simufact brought out Simufact Additive 3. Dutch company atum3D unveiled its new Operator Station software, and on the 3D scanning side of things, Shining 3D released a reverse engineering software solution along with Geomagic. More Cura news came from Mixed Dimensions, which developed a plugin for it and Daz 3D.A brand new software solution was introduced with SelfCAD, which brings 3D modeling, slicing and more together in one program. Astroprint launched a new mobile 3D printing app, and Morphi 3.0 was introduced with several new features. The Digital Factory platform was unveiled by LINK3D, and exaSIM was launched in its full commercial version by 3DSIM (recently acquired by ANSYS). In dental 3D printing news, Structo and Materialise introduced PrintWorks Pro. 3D Systems continued to roll out new software for both additive and subtractive manufacturing with Geomagic Control X 2018 inspection software and GibbsCAM 12 for CNC production.
In one of the biggest software releases of the year, SOLIDWORKS 2018 was unveiled. HP and Siemens partnered up to develop a new additive manufacturing software model, and Authentise created a new module embedded in Siemens’ PLM software. ANSYS released a new real-time simulation tool called ANSYS Discovery Live, and Mixed Dimensions released more software, this time a file repair tool. Sculpteo partnered with ZBrush for a one-click 3D printing tool, and Doodle3D announced an update. The always-reliable Prusa introduced a new software update that made supports easier to remove.In more 3D scanning news, Shining 3D released the latest update to its EinScan 3D scanning software, and Simplify3D came out with Version 4.0. Finally, 3D Systems kicked off RAPID 2017 with a whole slew of new software announcements.
New software releases and updates may not be as flashy as new 3D printer releases, but they’re just as important, if not more so. Software is what keeps our 3D printers capable of producing quality prints, and a printer is only as good as the software that we use with it.
Near constant upgrades are necessary to keep the entire 3D printing industry from screeching to a halt, so as the New Year approaches, raise a glass to your favorite software program and start anticipating what might be new for it in 2018.
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