3D Systems (NYSE: DDD), the Rock Hill, South Carolina-based producer of stereolithography (SLA) printers, is making several big announcements at this year’s Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Conference in Chicago (April 3-7). First off, the company is releasing the newest addition to its line of industrial-grade machines, the SLA 750, for some time in the second quarter of 2022. 3D Systems will also make a dual-laser version of the machine (the SLA 750 Dual) commercially available during the fourth quarter of this year.
The SLA 750 not only increases print speeds up to 30% when compared to earlier generations of 3D Systems’ SLA printers. It is also field-upgradable to the SLA 750 Dual. The latter machine, moreover, boasts a twofold increase in print speeds, and three times faster throughput than the company’s previous systems. Both printers also have a 15% larger build envelope than their predecessors. The SLA 750 will be on display at 3D Systems’ booth at this year’s RAPID + TCT conference in Detroit (May 17-19).
In a press release, Dr. David Leigh, 3D Systems’ executive Vice President and chief technology officer (CTO) for AM, said, “I believe we are entering an era where there will be a path of rapid evolution to our innovations. In this light, our multi-purpose SLA platform will become a system that can help scale production applications through built-in functional and throughput enhancements.” Matt Harman, the technical director for the BWT Alpine F1 team — which has already been using the SLA 750 — said, “We produce hundreds of SLA parts every week, so time-to-finished part for us is everything. The SLA 750 increases our productivity and efficiency, allowing us to deliver superior quality production parts faster than ever. The entire system has been engineered for ease of operation, including automation. This is a huge step forward for our additive manufacturing capabilities and we are eager to extend our fleet with two more SLA 750s in 2022.”
The upgraded SLA printers are only part of the new rollout by 3D Systems. In addition to the two 750 models, the company is announcing two other new products: the Accura AMX Durable Natural SLA resin, and the PostCure 1050 post-processor. Further, although not a new product, it’s important to note that this is 3D Systems’ first generation of machines specifically designed to be used with the Manufacturing OS platform by Oqton, the software startup that 3D Systems acquired last fall.
As the first company to offer SLA printers on the market all the way back in 1987, it’s a logical move for 3D Systems to not rock the boat too much when it comes to its foundation and longevity — especially since it still represents the greatest share of the SLA market. While newer companies and customers in the AM sector may be increasingly transitioning to digital light processing and masked SLA technologies, it nonetheless still makes sense for this one to focus instead on revamping its SLA line.
This is particularly true insofar as the industry as a whole seems to have entered a phase where transformations in software, rather than those in hardware, will be the predominate changes driving the landscape’s evolution. In fact, considering that enhancing automation seems to be the number one driver behind general efforts to upgrade AM software platforms, older technologies in the sector could potentially have a leg up on newer ones. To the extent that automation depends on algorithms — while algorithms, of course, depend on data — it could represent a serious advantage for the AM technologies with the lengthiest track records, and thus the most data associated with their processes.
Images courtesy of 3D Systems.
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