The prototyping service bureau C.ideas, Inc. has been known amongst its peers as a 3D printing expert for 3D Systems' SLA, MJM and ProJet technologies, with full finishing services, throughout its fourteen years of operation. Yet as the company has grown and additive manufacturing initiatives have gained traction, C.ideas owner and president Mike Littrell decided to explore the possibilities of laser sintering (LS) production. He has discovered "an absolute game-changer."
Accustomed to the turnkey operation of FDM machines, Littrell wanted an LS machine that anyone in his company could operate. His search led him to 3D Systems' fully digital sPro60 HD HS production printer
, which outstripped the competition with its easy frontend software.
Before owning its own system, C.ideas coordinated with other bureaus to fill its LS production needs and was repeatedly confronted with barriers restricting what geometries were possible. Littrell tested those barriers with the first run of his new sPro 60 HD HS printer and said, "This machine is incredible." He was astonished not only by the production versatility and speed of the printer, but by the exceptional quality of the products. He immediately noticed that he was achieving an incredibly smooth surface finish that required very little post processing,and fine feature details that not only surpassed all his expectations, but which he had been led to believe were not even possible in Laser Sintering.
Because Selective Laser Sintering production is quicker to build, and in many cases less expensive to run than FDM, Littrell says he easily sees his company becoming a split LS and FDM house, especially given the growing momentum of additive manufacturing. "The quality is so outstanding," Littrell says, "that I could not honestly find myself going into that process without this machine. A fully digital, high definition, high speed machine is, to me, absolutely the next logical direction for the process to attain stunning quality surfaces and fine feature details. I should have bought this machine three years ago."