3D Systems, headquartered in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is a company that engineers, manufactures, and sells 3D printers, 3D printing materials, 3D scanners, and offers a 3D printing service. The company creates product concept models, precision and functional prototypes, master patterns for tooling, as well as production parts for direct digital manufacturing. It uses proprietary processes to fabricate physical objects using input from computer-aided design and manufacturing software, or 3D scanning and 3D sculpting devices.[2]

3D Systems Corporation
Founded1986; 37 years ago (1986) in Valencia, California, U.S.
HeadquartersRock Hill, South Carolina, U.S.
Area served
Key people
ServicesSLA, SLS, DMP, FDM, CNC,
Injection Molding, Investment Casting,
Sheet Metal, Figure 4, Medical Grade Prototypes,
Appearance Models, Low-Volume Mass Production
RevenueDecrease US$538 million (2022)
Decrease US$−117 million (2022)
Decrease US$−123 million (2022)
Total assetsDecrease US$1.45 billion (2022)
Total equityDecrease US$750 million (2022)
Number of employees
2,032 (2022)
Footnotes / references

3D Systems' technologies and services are used in the design, development, and production stages of many industries, including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, dental, entertainment, and durable goods. The company offers a range of professional- and production-grade 3D printers, as well as software, materials, and the online rapid part printing service On Demand.[3] It is notable within the 3D printing industry for developing stereolithography and the STL file format. Chuck Hull, the CTO and former president, pioneered stereolithography and obtained a patent for the technology in 1986.[4]

As of 2020, 3D Systems employed over 2400 people in 25 offices worldwide.[5]

History edit

3D Systems was founded in Valencia, California by Chuck Hull, the inventor and patent-holder of the first stereolithography (SLA) rapid prototyping system. Prior to Hull's introduction of SLA rapid prototyping, concept models required extensive time and money to produce. The innovation of SLA reduced these resource expenditures while increasing the quality and accuracy of the resulting model. Early SLA systems were complex and costly, and required extensive redesigns before achieving commercial viability. Primary issues concerned hydrodynamic and chemical complications. In 1996, the introduction of solid-state lasers permitted Hull and his team to reformulate their materials. Engineers in transportation, healthcare, and consumer products helped fuel early phases of 3D Systems' rapid prototyping research and development. These industries remain key followers of 3D Systems' technology.

In late 2001, 3D Systems began an acquisitions program that expanded the company's technology through ownership of software, materials, printers, and printable content, as well as access to the skills of engineers and designers. The rate of 3D Systems' acquisitions (16 in 2011) raised questions with regard to the task facing the company's management team. Other onlookers pointed to the encompassing scope of the acquisitions as indicating calculated steps by 3D Systems to consolidate the 3D printing industry under one roof and logo, and to become capable of servicing each link in the scan/create-to-print chain.[6][unreliable source?]

In 2003, Hull was succeeded by Avi Reichental.[7] Both Reichental and Hull are listed among the top twenty most influential people in rapid technologies by TCT Magazine.[8] Hull remains an active member of 3D Systems' board and serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President.[9] In 2005, 3D Systems relocated its headquarters to Rock Hill, South Carolina, citing a favorable business climate, a sustained lower cost of doing business, and significant investment and tax benefits as reasons for the move.[10]

In May 2011, 3D Systems transferred from NASDAQ (TDSC) to the New York Stock Exchange (DDD). In 2012, a Gray Wolf Report predicted 3D Systems' rate of growth to be unsustainable, pointing to inflated impressions from acquisitions as a corporate misstatement of organic growth. 3D Systems responded to this article on November 19, 2012, claiming it to "contain materially false statements and erroneous conclusions that we believe defamed the company and its reputation and resulted in losses to our shareholders."[11]

In January 2014 it was announced that 3D Systems had acquired the Burbank, CA-based collectibles company Gentle Giant,[12] which designs, develops, and manufactures three-dimensional representations of characters from a variety of globally recognized franchises, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, and The Lord of the Rings.[citation needed] In July 2014, 3D Systems announced the acquisition of Israeli medical imaging company Simbionix for US$120,000,000.[13] In September 2014, 3D Systems acquired the Leuven, Belgium-based LayerWise, a principal provider of direct metal 3D printing and manufacturing services spun off from KU Leuven.[14] The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by either company.[15] The takeover added Belgium to the list of countries where 3D Systems has active locations.

In January 2015, 3D Systems acquired the 3D printer manufacturer botObjects, the first company to commercialize a full-color printer using the fused filament fabrication technique.[16] botObjects was founded by Martin Warner (CEO) and Mike Duma (CTO).[17] botObjects' proprietary 5-color CMYKW cartridge system[18] was claimed to be able to generate color combinations and gradients by mixing primary printing colors.[17] There was some skepticism about botObjects' claims.[19]

In April 2015, 3D Systems announced its acquisition of the Chinese Easyway Group, creating 3D Systems China. Easyway is a Chinese 3D printing sales and service provider, with key operations in Shanghai, Wuxi, Beijing, Guangdong, and Chongqing.[20]

In October 2015, Reichental stepped down as the president and CEO of 3D Systems, Inc. and was replaced on an interim basis by the company's chief legal officer Andrew Johnson.[21] Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) was appointed as president and CEO on April 4, 2016.[22] On May 14, 2020, the 3D Systems board named Jeff Graves as president and CEO, effective May 26. He remains the CEO as of February 17, 2023. [23]

Technology edit

3D Systems manufactures stereolithography (SLA), fused deposition modeling (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS), color-jet printing (CJP), multi-jet printing (MJP), and direct metal printing (DMP, a version of SLS that uses metal powder) systems. Each technology uses digital 3D data to create parts through an additive layer-by-layer process. The systems vary in their materials, print capacities, and applications.

Color jet printing uses inkjet technology to deposit a liquid binder across a bed of powder. Powder is released and spread with a roller to form each new layer. This technology was originally developed by Z Corporation.[24]

Multi-jet printing refers to the process of depositing liquid photopolymers onto a build surface using inkjet technology. A high resolution is attainable, with a support material that can be easily removed in post-processing.

Products and patents edit

As part of 3D Systems' effort to consolidate 3D printing under one company, its products span a range of 3D printers and print products to target users of its technologies across industries. 3D Systems offers both professional and production printers. In addition to printers, 3D Systems offers content creation software, including reverse engineering software and organic 3D modeling software. Following a razor and blades model, 3D Systems offers more than one hundred materials to be used with its printers, including waxes, rubber-like materials, metals, composites, plastics and nylons.[25]

3D Systems is a closed-source company, using in-house technologies for product development and patents to protect their technologies from competitors. Critics of the closed-source model have blamed seemingly slow development and innovation in 3D printing not on a lack of technology, but on a lack of open information sharing within the industry,[26] and supporters argue that the right to patents inspires and motivates higher-quality innovations, leading to a better and more impressive final product.

In November 2012, 3D Systems filed a lawsuit against prosumer 3D printer company Formlabs and the Kickstarter crowdfunding website over Formlabs' attempt to fund a printer which it claimed infringed its patent on "Simultaneous multiple layer curing in stereolithography."[27] The legal procedure lasted more than two years and was significant enough to be covered in a Netflix documentary about 3D printing, called "Print the Legend".[28][29]

3D Systems has applied for patents for the following innovations and technologies: the rapid prototyping and manufacturing system and method; radiation-curable compositions useful in image projection systems; compensation of actinic radiation intensity profiles for 3D modelers; apparatus and methods for cooling laser-sintered parts; radiation-curable compositions useful in solid freeform fabrication systems; apparatus for 3D printing using imaged layers; compositions and methods for selective deposition modeling; edge smoothness with low-resolution projected images for use in solid imaging; an elevator and method for tilting a solid image build platform for reducing air entrapment and for build release; selective deposition modeling methods for improved support-object interface; region-based supports for parts produced by solid freeform fabrication; additive manufacturing methods for improved curl control and sidewall quality; support and build material and applications.[30]

Applications and industries edit

3D Systems’ products and services are used across industries to assist, either in part or in full, the design, manufacture and/or marketing processes. 3D Systems' technologies and materials are used for prototyping and the production of functional end-use parts, in addition to fast, precise design communication. Current 3D Systems-reliant industries include automotive, aerospace and defense, architecture, dental and healthcare, consumer goods, and manufacturing.

Examples of industry-specific applications include:

  • Aerospace, for the manufacture and tooling of complex, durable and lighter-weight flight parts
  • Architecture, for structure verification, design review, client concept communication, reverse structure engineering, and expedited scaled modeling
  • Automotive, for design verification, difficult visualizations, and new engine development
  • Defense, for lightweight flight and surveillance parts and the reduction of inventory with on-demand printing
  • Dentistry, for restorations, molds and treatments. Invisalign orthodontics devices use 3D Systems' technologies.
  • Education, for equation and geometry visualizations, art education, and design initiatives
  • Entertainment, for the manufacture and prototyping of action figures, toys, games and game components; printing of sustainable guitars and basses, multifunction synthesizers, etc.
  • Healthcare, for customized hearing aids and prosthetics, improved medicine delivery methods, respiratory devices, therapeutics, and flexible endoscopy and laparoscopy devices for improved procedures and recovery times
  • Manufacturing, for faster product development cycles, mold production, prototypes, and design troubleshooting

For industries such as aerospace and automotive, 3D Systems' technologies have reduced the time needed to incorporate design drafts and enabled the production of more efficient parts of lighter weight. Because 3D printing builds layer-by-layer according to design, it does not need to accommodate the traditional manufacturing tools of subtractive methods, often resulting in lighter parts and more efficient geometries.

Operations edit

In 2007, the company consolidated its offices, operations, and research and development functions into a new global headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, US. About half of the headquarters’ 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) consist of research and development laboratories with an 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) Rapid Manufacturing Center (RMC) with 3D Systems’ rapid prototyping, rapid manufacturing and 3D printing systems at work.[31]

With customers in 80 countries, 3D Systems has over 2100 employees in 25 worldwide locations, including San Francisco, Leuven, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, South Korea, Brazil, the United Kingdom, China and Japan.[citation needed] The company has more than 359 U.S. and foreign patents.[32]

In 2019, the company consolidated resources within its On Demand domestic rapid printing service locations into Littleton, Seattle, Lawrenceburg, and Wilsonville. Restructuring and additions were made to the Lawrenceburg facility for future expansions and growth, which nearly doubled its size.

Community involvement and partnerships edit

3D Systems is involved in a multi-year agreement with the Smithsonian Institution as part of an effort to strengthen collections' stewardship and increase collection accessibility through 3D representations.[33] In 2012, 3D Systems began partnering with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in the Future New category, where three winners are awarded with a $1000 scholarship in addition to the prizes and recognition granted to winners by the Scholastic Awards,[34] and contributed two production-grade 3D printers to the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which aims to re-localize manufacturing and increase US manufacturing competitiveness.[35] 3D Systems is also a corporate underwriter of the National Children's Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), which delivers educational, preventative and treatment oral health services to children in at-risk populations.[36]

On February 18 of 2014, Ekso Bionics debuted the first ever 3D-printed hybrid exoskeleton in collaboration with 3D Systems.[37][38]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "3D Systems Corporation 2022 Annual Report (Form 10-K)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 16 March 2023.
  2. ^ "About 3D Systems". 3D Systems. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  3. ^ "3D Systems On Demand". 3D Systems. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. ^ U.S. Patent 4,575,330 ("Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography")
  5. ^ "DDD | 3D Systems Corp. Profile". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  6. ^ Pfeifle, Sam (10 October 2012). "A brief history of 3D Systems acquisitions". Head in the Point Clouds (blog). SPAR Point Group. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013.
  7. ^ Petch, Michael (December 2, 2019). "The hype and rise of 3D printing and Avi Reichental". 3DPrintingIndustry.com. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Staff. "The TCT Top 20". TCT Magazine. United Kingdom: Rapid News Publications. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  9. ^ "3D Systems Corporation: NYSE:DDD quotes & news". Google Finance. Officers and Directors. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  10. ^ Staff (5 November 2005). "California 3D-Technology Firm To Relocate Headquarters to Rock Hill, SC". WRAL TechWire. United States: Capitol Broadcasting Company.
  11. ^ Staff (19 November 2012). "3D Systems' CEO Hosts Recent Articles Discussion Conference (Transcript)". United States: Seeking Alpha. Note: the first page of the 9 page transcript is available without registration.
  12. ^ "3D Systems Acquires Gentle Giant Studios". 3 January 2014.
  13. ^ Weinreb, Gali (31 July 2014). "3D Systems acquires Simbionix for $120m". Globes. Israel. Archived from the original on August 2, 2014.
  14. ^ "Company". LayerWise. Archived from the original on 9 Nov 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ "3D Systems Acquires LayerWise, Extending its Global Leadership in Advanced Metal 3D Printing, On-Demand Parts Manufacturing Services and Personalized Medical Devices" (Press release). 3D Systems. 3 September 2014.
  16. ^ "3D Systems Acquires botObjects" (Press release). 3D Systems. 13 January 2015. Archived from the original on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015 – via Desktop Engineering (Peerless Media).
  17. ^ a b "3D Systems Acquires 3D Printer Maker botObjects and Introduces CubePro® C Full-Color 3D Printer". January 5, 2015
  18. ^ "An Exclusive Look At The BotObjects ProDesk3D Color 3D Printer". February 5, 2014
  19. ^ Lecher, Colin (February 8, 2014). "This Full-Color 3-D Printer Sounds Too Good To Be True. Is It?". Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  20. ^ By Chris Lange, 24/7 Wall St. "3D Systems Hopes Acquisition in China Will Help." April 6, 2015. April 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "3D Systems Announces Departure of President and CEO" (Press release). 3D Systems. 29 October 2015.
  22. ^ "Printing Innovator and Leader, Vyomesh Joshi Takes Helm as 3D Systems' Chief Executive Officer" (Press release). 3D Systems. 4 April 2016.
  23. ^ "CEO Veteran and Global Manufacturing Leader Jeff Graves Named President and CEO of 3D Systems". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  24. ^ "Welcome To 3DS Central". Archived from the original on 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  25. ^ "The Next Big Thing: 3D Printing". CNBCFast Money. Archived from the original (Video) on 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  26. ^ "How Patents Have Held Back 3D Printing". 31 January 2012.
  27. ^ Rob Giseburt, 3D Systems Suing Formlabs and Kickstarter for Patent Infringement, Make:, 21 November 2012.
  28. ^ Netflix (9 September 2014). "Print the Legend Official Trailer [HD] Netflix". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19.
  29. ^ Biggs, John (December 2, 2014). "3D Systems v. Formlabs Patent Lawsuit Dismissed". Tech Crunch.
  30. ^ "TDSC - 3D Systems Corp. patents". Fresh Patents. Archived from the original on 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  31. ^ "3D Systems". Archived from the original on 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  32. ^ "Company Patents". 3Dsystems.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-10.
  33. ^ "3D Systems Partners With the Smithsonian on Landmark 3D Digitization Project" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 18, 2019.
  34. ^ "Future New - Scholastic Art & Writing Award New Category". NWP.org. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  35. ^ "3D Systems Invests In U.S. Government's Additive Manufacturing Institute". TCT Magazine. 23 October 2012.
  36. ^ "3D Systems Joins NCOHF: America's ToothFairy". Dentistry Today. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  37. ^ "3D Systems Prints First Hybrid Robotic Exoskeleton Enabling Amanda Boxtel to Walk Tall" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-03. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  38. ^ "Press Releases - Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc. (EKSO)". Eksobionics.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2014-08-16.

External links edit

  • Official website
  • Business data for 3D Systems: