new 3D CAD service Simplifies Creation of Solid Models

March 27th, 2007

Good friend Roopinder Tara, owner and publisher of, last week announced Innovate3D, a new 3D Solid Modeling service where anyone can get a 3d CAD model created for a simple $49 fee.

Right now, the service wll provide models in Inventor, Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks formats, as well as IGES, STEP and STL, based on materials you send – 2D drawings, photos, sketches etc. Customer can get the first model free, although if you indicate you read this in this blog, you can get the first three for free.

The service uses a team of 3D CAD modelers who will perform the work when the order is received, and they will be sent back when complete.

Roopinder explained why he has started this:”I started because of all the demand for 3D — a demand that has outpaced the ability of companies to keep up. Think of all the 2D drawings that need to be converted and all the downstream applications that would benefit from a solid model.”

It started me thinking of how this business model can work. We think that the service is mostly targeted at larger design teams that are trying to move legacy data from 2D to 3D. It should be attractive to overloaded designers and engineers can send out the work that is needed by his employer but is, probably, annoying to do on a day-to-day basis. However, i think that this is ideal for the ‘hobbyist’ market, where people want their innovations in 3D (maybe for prototyping and so on) but do not want to get into software purchases and learning curves until their product has been proved out.

The pricing model is straightforward – $49 per model, fixed fee. Roopinder says “It is a set amount so the
customer doesn’t have to worry about running up a big bill with an hourly labor rate.” So anybody with an hourly-billed 3D CAD model service needs to sit up straight and work out their differentiators to be able to survive.

My only queston left is how much will engineers, well known as being careful and conservative with design files, will trust this as a way of getting work completed. Even though this is fiscally wise, will it provide the quality of work that is needed? Well, I guess trying out the service for free will answer those questions and i think everyone should jump in and try it.

Boom Times for Rapid Prototypes

March 27th, 2007

It wasn’t long ago that generating 3D prototypes in house was the province of big manufacturers and outside service bureaus. Not anymore. 

Industry experts who have watched the rapid prototyping industry for years, such as Terry Wohlers and Todd Grimm, point to surging interest in 3D printers as the catalyst for making in-house prototyping a reality for more and more small and medium-sized companies.

With 3D printers priced in the $15,000 to $30,000 range, this equipment now has become a realistic investment for an increasing number of companies. “Most of the firms responsible for the bulk of product development are small,” notes Wohlers, president of the Colorado-based Wohlers Associates, a consulting firm that closely tracks the rapid prototyping and CAD marketplace.“When you look at what you get for your dollar in 3D printers, the case for buying a system has become very compelling.”

“There’s tremendous pent-up demand out there,” adds Grimm, president of T.A Grimm Associates, Edgewood, KY, who notes that prices for 3D printers have declined steadily from the $40,000 to $60,000 of just a few years ago. He points to one California startup – Desktop Factory – that plans to introduce a 3D printer for under $7,000, using an inexpensive halogen light source and drum printing technology to build parts layer by layer from composite plastic powder.

Meanwhile, the quality of 3D printers has risen, according to experts. “Most people who use this equipment are definitely putting the stamp of reliability on systems from such companies as Dimensions and Z-Corp,” says Grimm. “So from every standpoint – cost, maintenance, and training – 3D printers have become a very reasonable investment.”

Industry sales bear that out. Last May, Wohlers Associates published an in-depth study of the rapid prototyping market, which showed that the sales for additive fabrication grew by 14.6 percent in 2005 to $808.5 million. Wohlers points out that 3D printers accounted for 70 percent of those sales, versus more expensive stereolithography and laser sintering systems, where prices typically start at $200,000 and can run as much as a million dollars.

Now, says Wohlers, companies with as few as five or ten employees are buying 3D printers. As he explains it, by generating 3D models that people can see and touch, the equipment helps engineers and designers to optimize their designs and to solicit ideas from management, marketing, vendors and potential customers. Equally significant, companies routinely show these models to tooling vendors, who often suggest changes that can significantly reduce tooling and manufacturing costs, according to Wohlers.

Grimm notes that the costs of generating parts in-house is easily half of what outside service bureaus charge companies for producing prototypes.

As long as a firm has at least one engineer skilled in 3D CAD modeling, Wohlers does not see much of a learning curve in adjusting to 3D printing systems. “It’s just a trivial matter of a keystroke to send an STL file to the printer,” says Wohlers. He adds that it is rare nowadays for companies to buy a 3D printer and have it gather dust. “If anything, companies end up wanting to buy a second or third machine.”

Most companies are using 3D printers for design optimization, but there are instances where the quality of parts generated by 3D printing processes meets the standards for production parts, particularly in low-volume applications. Wohlers cites the example of a camera mount for the gun sights on the M1 Abrams tank. Using a 3D printer from the Dimension Printing Group of Stratasys, Inc., Virginia’s EOIR Technology built 40 mounts out of ABS modeling materials.

In more cases, too, according to Wohlers, companies that start with a 3D printer eventually add a stereolithography or laser sintering equipment for more elaborate prototypes, or for rapid manufacturing of low volume but high-priced parts for suchapplications as aerospace, motor sports, medical and dental.

Grimm agrees that although 3D printing will account for the “lion’s share” of sales in rapid prototyping equipment in the coming years, there will continue to be a healthy market for more expensive machines needed for high-volume quantities, more sophisticated or bigger components, or for use in shaping exotic materials.

All these trends combine to position the rapid prototyping industry for strong growth. The mid-year forecast projected global sales of $935 million for 2006, says Wohlers, a projected 15 percent increase over the 2005 sales figures, and he sees no sign of a weakening in sales.

Grimm agrees. Besides engineering departments, the popular 3D systems are going into colleges, high schools and even middle schools, he says. The consultant envisions the day when there will be a desktop unit for every three to five engineers. “There’s just phenomenal growth ahead. We haven’t even scratched the surface of this market.

Dimension 3D Printer Used as Output Device for Google Earth

March 2nd, 2007

Swedish Design Company Constructs Stockholm City Model in Fraction of Time with Help from Dimension and Google Earth 

The Mitekgruppen (Mitek-group), a Swedish design firm hired to create a 3D model of the city of Stockholm, Sweden, completed the project in a fraction of the normal time by using a Dimension 3D printer and Google Earth.
One of Sweden’s largest daily newspapers recently reported that the 157 square-foot replica was the second most visited exhibit in the country last year. Until recently, the exhibit was displayed at Stockholm’s Kulturhuset (The Culture House) in Stockholm’s city center. It is currently being stored and readied for shipment to another, yet-to-be determined, location within Sweden.


To construct the Stockholm model, Mitekgruppen used aerial photos and drawings to create the city’s buildings in a computer aided design (CAD) program. Where aerial photos and drawings weren’t available, designers relied on Google Earth to prepare these CAD files for the 3D printer. The CAD files were then sent to the 3D printer to produce models of Stockholm’s buildings. The finished building replicas where then positioned, secured and hand painted along with other landscape features including bridges, cars, boats trains and trees.

Combining the information from the photos, drawings and Google Earth with Dimension’s accurate models, the replica was completed in under six months months. Mitekgruppen is currently engaged in discussions with other cities in Sweden to create similar city models.

“A handmade model of this scale would have been a tremendous time investment,” said Martin Jonsson, co-owner and designer at Mitekgruppen. “Similar city replicas have taken years to construct. With the Dimension 3D printer and the images we gathered from Google Earth, a project that could have taken years to finished was completed in a matter of months.”



Other companies have used the Dimension 3D printer to create neighborhood models within cities. Gordon Ingram Associates (GIA), a U.K. based lighting consultancy firm, used a Dimension to generate scaled 3D models of areas in central London, allowing interested parties the ability to witness the effects of light on the buildings in the cityscape.

“The Dimension 3D printer offers a significant advantage to organizations looking to model architectural projects and cityscapes in a short amount of time,” said Jon Cobb, vice president and general manager of 3D printing for Stratasys. “We are excited to see how design and architectural firms use the Dimension 3D printer to produce these complex replicas so efficiently. The use of Google Earth for these projects is exciting, especially where aerial maps and drawings are unavailable or fall short of giving designers the information they need to create accurate replicas.”

More information on the Dimension 3D Printer is available at

For more information about Mitekgruppen, visit


3D Printer making 3D Puzzles

February 21st, 2007

arrival of the 3D printer

An excerpt from George Miller of Puzzle Palace (  3D printers have introduced a whole new genre of puzzles. These are puzzles freed from the constricts of machinablity. Nob Yoshigahara calls them uncastable. I was fortunate enough to see such a 3D printer in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry one day, Oskar van Deventer excitedly took me by the arm and led me to this machine. We stood in total awe of this machine which was slowly, almost molecule by molecule, building the case for a child’s toy. There was a video above the machine showing the construction in fast motion. A print head would sweep over the platform laying down a very thin layer of plastic (ABS) over the previous layer.

One by one the layers would stack up until the entire piece was built. The machine was like a giant, sophisticated glue gun. It had two nozzles: one spewed the plastic material in any color (just choose one color) you wanted. The other nozzle spewed a support material which could easily be broken away after the build was complete. We asked the name of this fantastic machine (Dimension – and both wished we had one.

On impulse I decided to buy the machine shortly thereafter from Phillip Trinidad at ProtoPulsion in Redwood City, CA ( I installed the machine in my printshop and almost from the time I had it powered on, Oskar was sending me complex, intensely three-dimensional puzzles. He was using a program called Rhino to design the puzzles so it was very easy for me to convert to the format the 3D printer needed (.stl) and print off a copy of his puzzle. The first puzzle he sent me was Tube Maze. It took a lot of trial and error to get the process down and produce good puzzles. When I finally got the knack, the puzzles coming out of the machine were fantastic!  Also, it takes only hours build a single puzzle. Though this is not a mass production device, some puzzles are so complex that they can only be made on the ProtoPulsion Dimension 3D Printer. For other less complex puzzles, it is meant mainly for producing a prototype. One then takes the prototype to a caster who makes a mold from the plastic prototype and then pours tin or epoxy into the mold to form, repeatedly, pieces.

However, Oskar was sending me puzzles so twisted that they defied being molded. I decided to sell these puzzles on Puzzle Palace ( They are very expensive. I can’t make up a whole bunch in advance and have them on my shelves as inventory. Although I am stating that I have 100 in inventory for each puzzle in the collection, in truth, I have none in inventory and will only start making a puzzle in the Oskars Exotic Collection upon the receipt of an order. There will only be 100 of each puzzle sold. So, this collection is a limited edition.

In March, 2004 Oskar came to visit me and discuss the production of the Oskar’s Exotic collection. Here we are in the Puzzle Palace workshop discussing some of the finer points of the collection. Once Oskar learned how to use the 3-D Printer, he was up all hours of the night feeding it new ideas and reels of material. We hope some day to have a vast collection of very unique puzzles. Click here to find out more about 3D printing at the Puzzle Palace.

Three Printers: Same Parts, Different Results

February 8th, 2007

Evaluating 3D printers for their dimensional accuracy using the same STL files. 
The blending of lower costs and easier-to-use technology is still fueling rapid growth for 3D printers. Designers, engineers, and educators are using these printers in record numbers, contributing to the fastest growing segment of the rapid prototyping (RP) industry.3D printers are often used in the earliest stages of design where models become the tools for review, evaluation, and innovation. Though life spans of such design tools can be measured in minutes or hours, users still want reasonable accuracy to satisfy the needs of their applications.

 Figure 1: End users of the three top-selling 3D printers were each asked to build four prototypes for this evaluation. One pair consisted of the top and bottom halves of a battery box, while the other was a light fixture consisting of a base and decorative cap. On the left, a battery box top created with the InVision SR. On the right, the battery box bottom created with a Dimension SST. Click on images to enlarge. Image   Image

The accuracy among printers differs. So how do you know whether the machine you are looking at will give you the accuracy you need? With that question in mind, we asked three users of the top-selling machines to create identical prototype parts for an evaluation. We then analyzed and quantified the dimensional accuracy of parts produced by the Dimension SST, InVision SR, and ZPrinter 310 and compare them here. 

Ground Rules of the Process We asked end users—rather than manufacturers of the equipment—to build four prototypes. These end users were carefully selected for their experience with each of the three systems—each using different materials (see “Systems At a Glance” below)—and to minimize bias. The participants were limited to one build for each part so that iterations could not be used to improve the results. The parts were postprocessed to the minimum standards, which included support removal, depowdering, and infiltration. Sanding and finishing were not permitted. Upon receipt, the parts were randomly labeled S1 through S12. By eliminating any reference to the systems, the labeling enabled a blind study. The parts were not matched to the system that produced them until all inspection analysis was complete.
The parts were then inspected with an
LDI 150 laser scanner. For each part, the scanner’s output yielded a point cloud with an average of 237,000 individual points, which provides a truer representation of accuracy than would a CMM (coordinate measuring machine). Using PolyWorks software, the point cloud data was compared to the STL files from which the parts were built. This CAI (computer-aided inspection) data produced the color maps and accuracy summaries used to present this report.The results reveal some surprising information and, in some cases, the data is contradictory to typical preconceptions. Assembly Prototypes A pair of two-piece assemblies were created. The first was a battery box (Figure 1, above) consisting of a top and bottom joined with a hinge and snap enclosure. The components measure roughly 2.5 x 2.0 x 1.0 in. The second assembly was a light fixture comprised of a base, which holds a light bulb, and a decorative cap that screws to the base. These parts have diameters of about 1.5 in. and heights of 1.5 to 2.0 in.The color maps seen in Figure 3 (below) illustrate the deviation of the sample parts from their STL files. The color scale, which is different for each part, indicates the range of dimensional error. Green areas are nearest to the nominal dimension, while yellow/red shows the highs and cyan/blue shows the lows.   ‹‹ Figure 2: This is a summary of the deviation of the sample parts from their STL files. The combination of the mean and the standard deviation documents the range of error for about 66 percent of all data points. Click on image to enlarge. Image  A summary of these results is presented in Figure 2 (above) and in Table 1 (available here). Table 1 lists the mean (average) standard deviation and min/max error. The combination of the mean and the standard deviation documents the range of error for approximately 66 percent of all the data points. Figure 2 is a graphical representation of the data in Table 1. This chart shows the ±1 standard deviation as a solid bar. The vertical lines above and below indicate the maximum deviation for all data points. Battery Box Results For both the bottom and top parts of the battery box, the Dimension SST produced the best overall accuracy, as seen in the color maps. The 61 error is impressive, with both parts having a range of just 0.006 in. While the maximum errors are 20.017 and 0.020 in., 99 percent of all data points fall within a range of -0.010 to 0.010 in.The second best accuracy was posted by the ZPrinter 310. The ±1 error is 0.008 in. for the bottom and 0.010 in. for the top. For the bottom, the error range for 99 percent of the points approached that of the Dimension SST (-0.0010 to 0.014 in.), but the top’s error band is twice the size (-0.020 to 0.020 in.). The top also has a wide maximum error range of -0.024 to 0.035 in. 
›› Figure 3:  These color maps illustrate the deviation of the sample battery boxes from their STL files.The color scale indicates the range of error. Green areas are nearest to the nominal dimension, while yellow/red shows the highs and cyan/blue the lows. Click on image to enlarge.  The InVision SR came in third for accuracy among the three technologies. For both parts, the range of dimensional variance was quite large when compared to the other systems. The two parts have ±1 error bands of 0.021 and 0.020 in. Ninety-nine percent of the data points fall within a range of -0.042 to 0.028 in. The extent of this error band is significantly broader than that of either the Dimension SST or ZPrinter 310. Fixture Results The Dimension SST also had the best accuracy for the fixture base and fixture cap. As with the battery components, the ±1 error range is only 0.006 in. for both parts. Also consistent, the 99 percent range of values are between -0.009 and 0.009 in. Dimension SST did show an interesting difference in min/max error for the base and cap. The base had the biggest maximum error range of any Dimension part (-0.030 to 0.020 in.), while the cap had the best (-0.010 to 0.015 in). 
  These Web Exclusive images show a fixture base created with a Dimension SST (left) and a fixture cap as created by the ZPrinter 301 (right). Click on images to enlarge.  Image   Image

The ZPrinter 310 came in second here, too, and the fixture base was the best of all ZPrinter 310 parts. The ±1 error for these parts are 0.009 and 0.010 in. The base has a standard deviation range of -0.003 to 0.006 in., and the cap has a range of -0.002 to 0.008 in. Of all data points for these parts, 99 percent fall between -0.013 and 0.019 in. While the accuracy of the fixture components from the InVision SR is better than that for the battery box, it came in third. The ±1 error bands are 0.0013 and 0.015 in. That’s 50 percent larger than that of the ZPrinter 310 and more than double that of Dimension SST. Although the accuracy of the fixture cap approaches that of the ZPrinter 310, the 99 percent error range is broader (-0.023 and 0.016 in.). 
‹‹ This Web Exclusive image shows color maps of the dimensional accuracy of the fixture base (left) and the fixture cap (right). Click on image to enlarge. 

Dimension SST The Dimension SST outperformed both the ZPrinter 310 and InVision SR in all but one measure. The analysis shows that Dimension SST has a narrower range of tolerance deviation and that the high and low deviations are centered about the nominal value. For prototype parts of similar size, this analysis shows that ±0.003 in. is a reasonable expectation for many measurements and that most should fall between -0.010 and 0.010 in. One factor that impacts overall accuracy and quality is that the Dimension SST may leave a narrow gap between the faces of small features. These gaps arise when the system cannot fill the space without adding excess material. The gaps are included in the accuracy data and can be seen in the color maps.Yet, the level of dimensional accuracy and the consistency of the results rival that of rapid prototyping systems that cost much more. ZPrinter 310 The accuracy results for the ZPrinter 310 seem contradictory to previous accuracy studies and general perceptions. This system performed well, and the results are reasonable for a system in the 3D printer class of rapid prototyping technology. Users of the technology, when constructing parts of similar size, can reasonably expect to see dimensional tolerances that are on the order of ±0.005 in. Overall, the test parts show that most dimensions should fall between -0.015 and 0.015 in.However, the ZPrinter 310 did show a tendency to produce dimensional inaccuracies that exceed the ±0.015 in. range. A contributing factor might be part postprocessing. Unlike the other two technologies, the ZPrinter 310 requires manual depowdering and infiltration of the prototypes. When enlarged, the point cloud shows that most surfaces have high and low spots that deviated significantly from the bulk of the surface. This is likely the result of an excess or shortage of powder and infiltrant.It is important to note that the battery bottom, which was infiltrated with cyanoacrylate, was broken in three places. A snap fit was broken off when the part was removed from the powder bed. If allowed to build the part a second time, the end user indicated that this could have been remedied. Additionally, in transit to the inspection company, two corners were broken off. While these missing features were not included in the dimensional analysis, they would detract from the overall part accuracy when used as a concept model or prototype.  InVision SR It is difficult to state what can be expected from the InVision SR system, since the dimensional accuracy varied significantly by part. However, it appears that a reasonable range is -0.010 to 0.005 in. and that most dimensions will fall between -0.020 and 0.020 in. With the exception of the battery top, the features tend to be undersized.These results show that the InVision SR may be acceptable as a concept modeler, but for more demanding applications, the technology might not satisfy all accuracy requirements. Conclusion  From this study of four parts, the Dimension SST has shown that it can deliver the accuracy needed for prototype components. The ZPrinter 310 also performed well, although the range of tolerance error is broader than that of the Dimension. Surprisingly, the InVision SR was not as accurate in spite of its high resolution.Caution is merited when using these results. As any user will state, the quality of a rapid prototype, including dimensional accuracy, is a function of the part, the system, the build parameters, the material, and the operator. Therefore, use this data only as an indicator of the possible accuracy for small prototype components.Todd Grimm is president of T. A. Grimm & Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on rapid prototyping and reverse engineering. He is also chairman of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ 3D Data Capture/Reverse Engineering technology group and is the author of Users Guide to Rapid Prototyping. Contact him at or send an e-mail about this article by clicking here. Please reference “3D Printers, January 2006” in your message.  


Company Gives Form to Medical Devices

February 6th, 2007

By David Morrill – Business Writer




Curt Anderson of Compass Design in Pleasanton holds a medial device that his company designed. (Mike Lucia/Tri-Valley Herald)

PLEASANTON - WHEN a medical device comes to the attention of Compass Product Design Inc., the science and innovation behind the product is not the issue. What the Pleasanton company cares about is how it feels, whether the device repairs a human eye or has a laser that can remove tattoos."They might have a device that does great things, but it looks like it came out of Frankenstein's labs," said Curt Anderson, 54, Compass Product Design's owner and chief executive. "They want something that looks appealing, and that's where we come in."

Compass Product Design and its 12-person staff take products made by others and craft a design around them that will make them both marketable and practical to use. The company has seen its revenues grow an average of 15 percent per year.

Consumers may assume that the company that manufactures a product designed it as well. That's not always the case.

"Sometimes it's like (customers) give us a box of pieces and tell us to make it look like they want it to look," Anderson said.

Industrial design technology has changed a great deal since Anderson entered the business in 1989.

Hand drawings and draft boards have been replaced by computers. And instead of dot-matrix printers creating two-dimensional representations of products, today's machines can produce a detailed 3-D plastic replica of a concept.

Other industrial design companies have come and gone, but Compass Product Design has stayed in business

for more than 17 years largely because it has found a niche market with medical devices, Anderson said.He attributes his success with medical technology to "absolutely


DESIGNIBusiness 2dumb luck."

He started the company out of the bedroom of his home, and his first client was his next-door neighbor, founder of Iris Medical Instruments Inc., who needed help with the design of an eye surgery device.

To prepare, Anderson put on scrubs and watched how a similar medical device was used during surgery. He wasn't impressed.

The device was the size of a washing machine, had a confusing control panel and, because eye surgery is done in dim areas, was hard to read.

"The nurses were using a flashlight to look at the control panel, and they were struggling for 10, 20 or 30 minutes to try and figure out how to use it," Anderson said. "I thought, 'This is ridiculous. Here a patient is waiting on the surgery table like a slab of meat, and they're chewing through money ... because it takes so long to figure out how to use the device.'

"Right then, I knew we needed to make something that works easily and intuitively," he said.

Anderson's design was much smaller, featured only a few knobs, a color-coded display and a logical left-to-right layout.

He knew he was on the right track when medical technicians saw his device for the first time. It was as if a light went off in their head — "like a cartoon" — and they immediately understood how to use it, Anderson said.

That first device was the OcuLight GL. Iris Medical, which marketed the OcuLight, went public as Iridex Corp. in 1996.

About 70 percent of Compass Product Design's clients are medical device companies, but the company also has designed a range of other products, including sports equipment, phones and toys.

Along its hallways are both photos and prototypes of some of the 200-plus products the company has helped design over the years. These include a tug-boat toy called Hammer Away! for Livermore-based Discovery Toys Inc., a golf-swing analyzer GolfAchiever for Sunnyvale-based Focaltron Corp., and a device called HomeBase for San Antonio-based AT&T Inc. that allows for cell phones to be used as cordless phones at home.

Scott Christensen, president and chief executive of Fremont-based medical device company Dynatherm Medical Inc., has known Curt Anderson for years. Christensen is using Compass Product Design to design a second-generation core body heating device to manage a person's body temperature.

"Just like with an interior decorator, we give (Compass designers) the essence of what we are trying to do and then see what kind of interesting ideas they can come up with," Christensen said. "We want to put forward something we are comfortable will catch a customer or doctor's eye."

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, Compass Product Design's services can range from $20,000 to $100,000.

In 1993, Compass Product Design added mechanical engineering to its offerings, which allows it to advise clients on ways to improve the inner workings of their products. Anderson hopes one day to be able to mass manufacture products as well.

Anderson chose "Compass" as his company name to convey the importance of addressing design issues early in the product-creation process.

"I see many products out there where you can tell the design was done quickly and just forced through the manufacturing process," Anderson said. "It is important to have something that is really well thought out and logical."

As a small company, Compass has an advantage over some bigger firms because it involves clients on a more personal level, Anderson said.

And his employees scour gadget and design magazines to stay up on the latest trends.

"Designs are constantly evolving and people constantly demand better quality," Anderson said. "Even if you look at a toothbrush, it used to be just a stick and bristles. Now there are so many different (designs) you can find."

These days, Anderson leaves much of the design process to his employees, but he's always looking for the next great design: "Sometimes I'll be walking in a store and my wife will look at me and say, 'Will you quit redesigning everything you see?'" Anderson said.

While he admits it might be "sexier" to have his designs featured in the high-tech gadget world and tech magazines like Wired, he said the medical device field has its rewards, too.

"It has a better ring to know you helped someone from a medical standpoint, versus, 'That copy I made on that fax machine is really great for me,'" he said.


Contact David Morrill at (925) 416-4805 or

ProtoCafe Introduces Total Prototyping Service Offering

February 6th, 2007

Protocafe ( is a full turnkey rapid prototyping solution. Depending on your designs we can tailor a custom solution that best fits your design needs and the end use of your model. Some examples include:

  • scaled models
  • models for form, fit, and function testing
  • aesthetic models
  • functioning assemblies
  • high fidelity prototypes (i.e. tradeshow or photo shoot quality models)
  • marketing display models/sales tools
  • patterns for investment casting and soft tooling
  • vacuum forming patterns
  • heuristic evaluation/usability testing models

Models are created out of a variety of material which include, but are not limited to:

  • ABS- The material of choice by leading manufacturers and engineers because of its strength and lending itself to be a true representation of the actual product. It is also very popular due to its ability to be post processed or finished (see finishing services for more information).
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polycarbonate ABS blends
  • Rubber-like flexible material 

Dimension 3D Printing Group Introduces the Dimension Elite

February 6th, 2007

New 3D Printer Delivers Stronger Models with Finer Feature Detail and
Improved Surface Finish at an Affordable Price

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 31, 2007–The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of Stratasys, Inc. (Nasdaq:SSYS), today launched and announced immediate availability of the Dimension Elite 3D Printer. The Elite joins the group’s market leading line of desktop modeling systems — which includes the Dimension 1200 Series (priced from $21,900) and 768 Series (priced from $18,900) — as the fifth 3D printer within the Dimension product family. The Elite was introduced this week at the annual Dimension reseller conference in Las Vegas, Nevada to Dimension’s network of more than 200 partners worldwide.

The Dimension Elite 3D Printer provides engineers and designers stronger, functional models with finer feature detail and improved surface finish. Priced at $32,900, the Elite features an 8 x 8 x 12-inch build envelope and uses a new, stronger ABS material, ABSplus.
ABSplus is on average 40 percent stronger than standard ABS material, making it ideally suited for testing the form, fit and function of inherently fragile, fine-featured models.

“The Dimension Elite addresses a market need for an affordable, networked, 3D printer capable of building stronger functional models with finer feature detail,” said Jon Cobb, vice president and general manager of 3D printing for Stratasys. “Engineers and designers creating models that demand finer detail – such as those designing tomorrow’s electronic connectors, medical testers and small instruments – will be thrilled by the performance and affordability of the Dimension Elite. We believe the Elite is an important addition to our successful line of 3D printers, offering designers who put a premium on strength and detail an affordable output option.”

Welcome to your online Prototyping Community!!

February 2nd, 2007

We have had several requests from many people in the rapid manufacturing/rapid prototyping community to start a website where folks could come together to share ideas and comments to help them gain knowledge in the industry.