Software Innovation from the 3D-Printing Pioneer 3D Systems


Today I want to introduce you to 3D Systems based in HQ Rock Hill, South Carolina. The company was founded in 1986 and is a pioneer of 3D-printing technology. Since that time, they have acquired 29 companies and invested in 3 promising startups from which one already had an exit via acquisition through GE and did their own IPO back in 2011 (NYSE: DDD).

3D Systems managed to gain a lot of popularity through a project which goal it was to design and create 3D-printed prosthetics to Derby, the dog. The footage of Derby running on these artificial legs became a viral video on YouTube back in 2014 and was watched by more than 10 million users ever since. That’s one amazing story if you ask me. This clearly indicates the future for human prosthetics as well.

The 3D Systems services and products could be leveraged in any kind of industry, but they focus on applications such as manufacturing, design, engineering, and medical specialties. With this article I want to provide you with an overview of their software offering in the realm of industrial scanning, designing, inspecting and manufacturing. Using their software helps companies to increase productivity and shorten the time to market. I’d also like to mention that some of these software solutions also require hardware counterparts, such as scanners, to adequately function.

Inspection software

With Geomagic Control X quality managers and other concept, inspectors are able to inspect parts virtually. The metrology features can help especially those companies who are positioned in the aerospace and automotive industries.

As part of the functional portfolio of Geomagic Control X, you can analyze parts, report results and even enable manufacturing workflows that have the potential to improve efficiency and aid the overall productivity significantly.

3D-scanning software

If you’re looking to reverse-engineer from parts to CAD (Computer Aided Drawing/Design), you should have a look at Geomagic Design X from 3D Systems. With this tool, you can scan three-dimensional objects, and the software will process and vectorize it into formats that your existing CAD solution can read.

Even if you plan to do very detailed work on your digital design file and put many hours into it, it’s always better to start with a scanned object rather than starting from scratch. Because the solution works with standard formats, it can easily be integrated into your current design workflow without the need to convert anything on the way, which is not only convenient but can also save a lot of time.

Design software

If you’re looking for digital sculpting, you might be interested in Geomagic Freeform. This is the 3D Systems tool to create, shape, and model digital clay. You can add structure, color, and lighting to your objects and scenes too which enables you to render concepts quickly without exporting it first into another suite.

This solution is attractive if you’re working in industrial product design and need to deliver quality results quickly but stay in a standard CAD format all the time. Touch haptic devices allow you to swap your computer mouse for a digital modeling system that works just like real sculpting. Did you like the story about the 3D-printed prosthetics for Derby, the dog from above? Those have been made with the Geomagic Freeform software to give you just one example of the possibilities.

Manufacturing Software

To support manufacturing 3D Systems throws in two different software solutions. Let’s start with Cimatron. The latest version of this is Cimatron 13 which comes with new capabilities for the manufacturing of molds, dies and other discrete parts along with an improved UI for more comfortable handling.

The other software is GibbsCAM, and the CAM here stands for Computer-Aided Manufacturing. GibbsCAM is designed to work with any CNC machinery. You can turn around simple processes such as programming 2-axis milling relatively quick and can also build more complex routines with programmable multi-tasking machines.


They say, “this is what manufacturing innovation looks like” and diving into their solution portfolio I feel convinced that they offer genuinely competitive solutions. I also like the aspect that you can get scanners, handlers, software, and 3D-printers all from the same shop, and never have to worry about compatibility between the worlds. I haven’t seen that anywhere else yet.

All the featured software releases have a free trial version available through the website of 3D Systems. You only have to register there, and you’ll be provided with a fully functional copy that will work for 15 days. If you happen to trial their solutions, make sure you post a comment below or share it with us on social media.

YouTube: Making 3D Production Real

Photo credit: Artist adds details on his 3D-printed Star Wars helmet by 3D Systems
Editorial notice: This is a sponsored post written by me. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isak
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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