Firm Makes Impression in Rapid Prototyping : Valencia: 3D Systems leads the industry that provides machines for making plastic models from computer designs in hours.
Computer peripheral manufacturers have a chance to win a big contract from IBM.
The computer giant needs to produce two computers.
Press the computer mouse in a hurry.
IBM gave Logitech 2-
Develop the weekly deadline for working mode and the price of bulk production parts.
So Logitech turned to an unusual model --
The manufacturing machine it purchased from the 3D Systems Companyin Valencia.
3D technology can convert computer designs into real plastic models in a few hours, not weeks related to traditional modeling materials such as wood, clay and metal.
A week later, when Logitech executives met with IBM, they were able to show IBM a working model that Logitech won on the spot.
Rick Lutzinger, director of mechanical engineering at Logitech, said: \"It blows our competitors out of the way . \".
This rapid transformation is the reason why 3D systems sell more than 450 of these machines to some of the largest companies, including General Motors, which are known in the industry as rapid prototyping systems Chrysler and Ford, except for airlines, manufacturers of toys and consumer goods such as Tupperware.
According to Wohlers Associates of the Financial Times, there are an estimated 891 rapid prototyping systems in global manufacturing facilities, and 3D is the industry leader. Collins, Colo.
An industry research company.
3D is also in-
In addition to selling minicomputer, design houses for customers.
The expansion of 3d reputation ultimately means 8-year-old company.
The company announced $2. 1-
The nine-month million profit is over.
30, compared with a loss of $920,469 in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the company\'s sales soared 38% to $31.
1 million in the last nine months
This is a dramatic shift for 3D, and while 3D technology is interesting, it is difficult to build a profitable business for a long time.
The company lost nearly $10 million in 1991.
That followed changes in management, including Arthur B, chief executive three years ago.
Sims, a senior in the high-tech industry, leads the company by cutting jobs and installing marketing changes.
Sims intends to expand the company\'s revenue by selling more than just expensive modeling machines that can cost from $100,000 to $500,000.
Now 3D sells a service contract for the buyer to maintain the machine and it also has an employee
Build a model house for customers who don\'t want to buy 3d complex machines but still want to use the technology.
Today, only half of the company\'s revenue depends on sales of new machines.
The company has made profits for five consecutive quarters, and Sims wants the 3D system to be in the midst of a new boom while finding new applications for its technology.
Next year, with the introduction of a lower market, it will also enter a new, potentially large market.
Pricing, desktop modeling machine.
Analysts like the changes in 3D.
\"The new management has done a good job of leading the company to controlled, sustained growth,\" said Antoine Tristani, a technical analyst at Capital south coast in Austin, Texas.
\"The challenges we face are very similar to those faced by early computer companies,\" said 3d\'s Sims . \".
\"We have to find out where our greatest potential is.
\"In fact, 3D, which used to have fast prototyping, will soon compete with 20 competitors.
Rolf Hubert, vice president of marketing at Sanders prototype, said: \"All the companies that join want a 3d pie . \"of Wilton, N. H.
A new 3D opponent
* 3D also faces the task of convincing conservative manufacturers-
Unlike the first wave of customers ---that its high-
Technology with reasonable prices is worth investing in.
So far, 3D has sold most of its high
Companies that push machines to the elite are proud to be on the cutting edge of technology.
This is how 3d machines work: engineers who use computersaided-
For example, the design software design of automobile parts.
This design is then entered into a 3D machine that contains a laser above a large bucket of liquid plastic.
The computer guides the laser to draw a line on the surface of the resin to produce a cross
Part of the section.
The first part became strong immediately.
The machine then drops a part of 1 inch and creates another crossover
The liquid part above.
The process was repeated until a few hours later, a three-
Complete the size model (
So the name of the company).
3d founder Charles Hull developed this modeling method in 1986.
Manufacturers use these prototypes to view the appearance of the product and test and discover defects before investing huge amounts of money in building manufacturing plants to make actual parts.
Another key attraction is to shorten the time it takes to market new products.
Since 1988, Ciba-Geigy Ltd.
The Swiss giant chemical group has a 36% stake in 3d.
Ciba develops 3d technical materials in accordance with the agreement due in July.
The companies are discussing the terms of extending the agreement.
If analysts are right, rapid prototyping is also a fast-growing business.
Wohlers Associates estimates that sales of global rapid prototyping equipment and supplies in 1993 were $100 million, and sales in the industry are expected to reach $1 by 2006.
Annual sales of 2 billion.
However, 3D must find new markets in order to develop.
From 1993, 3D provides a new application for its machine, which can create models for metal parts.
Richard fechenko, vice president of 3d strategy and market development, believes that this new system, known as \"QuickCast\", will eventually be bigger than 3d\'s traditional plastic parts business.
The company also wants to sell its products to the medical industry.
Some research hospitals and medical companies are now using 3d technology to make prosthetic models, as well as prototypes of human bones and organs that can help surgeons plan operations.
Doctors within a few hours can check the exact model of the fracture site of a specific patient before starting the operation.
This greatly shortens the time of surgery and may help patients recover faster.
\"Medicine is a real card,\" Sims said . \"
\"I would be very surprised if it grew at no more speed than the manufacturing application.
\"3D executives are also preparing for the 1995 launch of a small prototype for desktop engineering purposes.
The price will be around $50,000.
So far, 3D has not revealed the details of this desktop model, which has caused speculation in many industries.
Some questioned whether the liquid resin and industrial chemicals used by 3D in its high-end models would work in an office environment that should not be in direct contact.
But many in the industry believe that the market outlook is
Modeling machine for pricing.
\"All of us recognize that there is a lot of potential in the desktop market,\" said Jennifer Maher, marketing manager at Helisys, 3D competitor Torrance.
\"But you have to have a high volume to be successful.
Industry watchers say the image of 3d was affected in the early days as company officials often exaggerate the benefits of the technology.
Manufacturers were initially dazzled, but when many people didn\'t know how to make the modeling machine improve the manufacturing process, they became disappointed, says Jeffrey Smith.
Moritz, editor of the rapid prototyping report, is an industry newsletter in San Diego.
\"The company that bought them finally made paperweight,\" he recalls . \"
Today, 3d executives say they must be careful not to overdo
Especially with new customers to promote the technology.
\"In the end, it will go back to the performance, not the commitment you made,\" Fedchenko said . \".