There was a lot to talk about in 2018: incredible, business-building customer applications; breakthrough material introductions; promising new partnerships; and game-changing new metal and plastic 3D printers, just to name a few. We featured all of these stories and many others on our social media platforms as they happened. Based on your engagement and comments, here are the top six 3D Systems social media hits from this year.

#1  3D Systems and GF Machining Solutions Partnering to Redefine the Factory of the Future

New DMP factory 500 metal 3D printer

We announced a partnership with GF Machining Solutions in August that is enhancing metal parts production while redefining how manufacturers think about their manufacturing environments. GF Machining Solutions is one of the world’s leading providers of complete solutions to the precision machining industry and to manufacturers of precision components. By combining the strength of our innovation and expertise in additive manufacturing with GF Machining Solutions’ renowned leadership in precision machining, this partnership enables manufacturers to more efficiently produce complex metal parts within tight tolerances, and reduce total cost of operation.

Our coverage on social media included the unveiling of the jointly developed DMP Factory 500 3D printing solution for metals at IMTS 2018. .

#2 Alfa Romeo Sauber F1® Team Adds Five 3D Systems ProX® 800 SLA 3D Printers to Win the Race Against Time for Part Production

This story was all about life in the fast lane. Sauber Motorsport AG first started using our solutions more than ten years ago. The Switzerland-based F1 legend added five ProX® 800 SLA 3D printers to its fleet, which also includes six 3D Systems SLS 3D printers.

“When we decided to upgrade our SLA production capability, we felt it was time to take our cooperation with 3D Systems to a deeper level. We also needed to expand our capacity, so replacing some of the older 3D Systems SLA’s with the higher throughput ProX 800 was the natural choice,” says Christoph Hansen, head of additive manufacturing, at Sauber. “We are using 3D Systems’ SLA solutions predominantly and extensively for wind tunnel testing, but also for tooling for carbon laminating as well as vacuum casting for silicon parts.”

Stay tuned for more winning news from the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1® Team in 2019!

#3 Figure 4 Combines Injection Mold Quality and Six Sigma Accuracy with the World's Fastest Time-to-Part

Combines repeatability, high surface quality and unmatched print speeds

The new Figure 4 3D printing platform enjoyed great popularity throughout the year and starred in coverage from many of our industry events as well as customer applications in the U.S. and Europe.

Figure 4 is unique in that it delivers up to 100mm/hr print speeds, six sigma repeatability across all materials, and surface quality that rivals injection molding. This is made possible by a light-based UV curing process that takes minutes versus hours with heat-based curing processes, and yields the world’s fastest additive manufacturing throughput and time-to-part.

As a result, Figure 4 enables high-speed digital molding - a process that complements traditional production methods by producing high quality plastic parts without the costs and time-consuming aspects of tooling. Digital molding is completely scalable, and with the high surface quality available on Figure 4, it excels at fine part texturing. In contrast to conventional manufacturing, part texturing with Figure 4 is essentially free and applicable to any surface, no matter the shape.

#4 250-Year-Old Dragons Come Roaring Back to Life

In July, we announced the installation of 72 large-scale SLS 3D printed dragons at The Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens (UK). The dragons were the final elements required to complete the Historic Royal Palaces’ (HRP) restoration of this 250-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

SLS 3D printed dragons

As HRP began the project, it needed a way to replace the large dragons that once adorned the building but were lost to history. HRP required a solution that would authentically replicate the dragons, yet could withstand the famously inclement English weather. 3D Systems’ On Demand team (High Wycombe, UK) delivered the lightweight, durable dragons using a scan-to-CAD workflow featuring Geomagic® software, SLS 3D printing and high quality finishing. These technologies, combined with the expertise 3D Systems’ team demonstrated through many hours of front-end engineering and back-end finishing, made this effort manageable, efficient and cost-effective.

Our coverage on social media included the unveiling of the dragons at a special event attended by many dignitaries, including His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.  

#5 SOLIDWORKS Users Free to Create More Shapes, More Ways with New 3DXpert™ for SOLIDWORKS®

In February, we changed the way designers use SOLIDWORKS with the latest release of 3DXpert. By combining the tools that designers need from 3D Systems’ 3DXpert with SOLIDWORKS from Dassault Systèmes, we provide a distinct and exclusive advantage to all SOLIDWORKS users.  The new 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS product enables SOLIDWORKS users to prepare and optimize designs for both plastic and metal additive manufacturing.

SOLIDWORKS users are now free to create more shapes, more ways with 3DXpert™ for SOLIDWORKS®

Designers using 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS are able to:

  • Maintain design integrity by working with native CAD solids without converting them into STL, or toggling between several software programs to accomplish all tasks.
  • Optimize structures with rapid creation of lattice-based structures for light-weighting and applying surface textures.
  • Ensure quality printed parts by using real-time analysis for best-fit positioning and orientation of the part. Use of automated analysis and setting of support structures helps designers ensure surface quality and prevents part distortion.
  • Accelerate preparation time by employing automatic features such as tray setup, and estimation of material usage and build time.

SOLIDWORKS World 2019 is coming up in just two months, so watch for more important software news from 3D Systems!

#6 3D Systems and Huntington Ingalls Industries Partner to Transform U.S. Navy Shipbuilding

Newport News plans to use 3D Systems' ProX DMP 320 to produce marine-based alloy replacement parts

We announced our collaboration with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division in May to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships. Newport News Shipbuilding is the sole designer, builder and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines. Through this collaboration, they are moving portions of their manufacturing process from traditional methods to additive, anticipating enhanced production rates of high accuracy parts with reduced waste, and realizing cost savings over other traditional production processes.

Thanks for being part of our journey in 2018 and sharing your thoughts, interests and applications with us on social. If you’re not following us already, be sure to join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. We look forward to keeping the conversation going in 2019!