Press Releases 3D Systems Solid Imaging
Complementary Technologies Let Designers Quickly Turn "Digitally Sculpted" Forms Into Solid Objects

Mary Woods, Public Relations Mgr.
3D Systems
26081 Avenue Hall
Valencia, CA 91355
ph: (661) 295-5600 ext. 2508
fx: (661) 295-3404

VALENCIA, California, August 11, 1999 - Two leading technology companies have teamed up to introduce a fundamentally new way to use desktop computers at SIGGRAPH 99, Aug. 10 -13, in Los Angeles. 3D Systems and SensAble Technologies have formed a strategic partnership to promote "desktop manufacturing" worldwide.

Together, the hardware and software developed by the firms could ultimately change the way people use computers, by quickly turning forms digitally "sculpted" on the computer into solid objects.

Desktop manufacturing can open new paths to creativity in three dimensions just as, in the mid-1980s, the introduction of desktop publishing software and laser printers created new ways for people to communicate on paper. Imagine sitting at your computer, seeing and feeling your model take shape as you sculpt it out of "digital clay."

The design you create with your fingertips appears on the computer. You press "print," and soon the three-dimensional object you created emerges in solid form, from a "printer" that sits near your office desk.

The output device, or three-dimensional printer, is the ThermoJet™ Solid Object Printer from 3D Systems, of Valencia, Calif. The modeling capability is provided by the FreeForm™ system from SensAble Technologies, of Cambridge, Mass. The FreeForm system uses the PHANTOM™ touch interface to let modelers, designers, and artists model on the computer using their sense of touch instead of just a keyboard and mouse. The Freeform system was officially launched by SensAble yesterday.

IBM IntelliStation® is the desktop computer on which the Windows-based software operates.

Opening Way to Desktop Manufacturing
"Working together, these technologies are much more than just a better way to use a computer," said Arthur B. Sims, chairman and chief executive officer of 3D Systems. "The FreeForm system and the ThermoJet printer open the way to desktop publishing in three dimensions -- bringing us closer to our ultimate goal of desktop manufacturing."

Bill Aulet, president of SensAble Technologies, described the pairing of 3D Systems' ThermoJet printer with SensAble's FreeForm modeling as "an ideal combination....Together, they offer an entirely new way to use computers intuitively, easily and quickly to turn human creativity into physical forms."

The SensAble and 3D Systems technologies provide unique advantages to customers. The FreeForm system uses a touch-based interface and familiar modeling metaphors like sculpting and wire cuts. As a result, it combines the expressiveness and intuitiveness of physical modeling with the productivity advantages of a digital tool.

3D Systems' ThermoJet printer turns the digital sculpture into a tangible object, using a variation on the technology widely used in inkjet printing. Instead of putting dots of ink on paper, this three-dimensional printer places tiny drops of molten thermoplastic, which almost immediately solidify. As more and more droplets are placed into precisely-controlled positions and quickly harden, they form a solid object.

The ThermoJet printer thus enables designers to create tangible, real-world examples of objects that may be difficult to comprehend when viewed as complex images on a computer screen.

The ThermoJet printer can build a part up to 8 inches high, 10 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. Priced at $49,995 for a single unit, and about the size of a large office copier, it is equally quiet, needing only an ordinary electric outlet. It connects to workstations via standard Ethernet networks.

In addition to designs created with SensAble's FreeForm system, this 3D printer can produce solid objects from a variety of digital sources. Engineers can use the printer to create samples of products designed using CAD (computer-aided design) software, while artists and the entertainment community can employ it to reproduce objects that are scanned in three dimensions.

The FreeForm system can also be used to manipulate and modify digital models from other sources such as 3D scanners or CAD packages. Users can easily import objects and then "sculpt" them at will.

On View at Siggraph
Visitors to SIGGRAPH can view the combination of SensAble's intuitive input technology and 3D Systems' ThermoJet printer, linked by an IBM IntelliStation, at 3D Systems, booth 501, and SensAble, booth 1101. ThermoJet printers are also being displayed at Gentle Giant Studios, booth 2047, a 3D Systems customer that makes three-dimensional models for major motion picture companies, and at Robert McNeel & Assoc., booth 2457, developers of "Rhino" CAD software. Show attendees who visit all four booths and complete a simple form can have their face scanned and printed at 3D Systems' booth.

Examples of original artwork created in three dimensions with the FreeForm system, and output by the ThermoJet printer, can be found at

3D Systems and SensAble Technologies will continue their strategic partnership beyond SIGGRAPH through seminars, demonstration centers and a collaborative educational campaign aimed at the design community.

About SensAble
SensAble Technologies, the industry leader in 3D Touch™ force feedback technology, is redefining the way professional computer users interact with their 3D data. SensAble and its products, including the PHANTOM family of hardware interfaces and the GHOST® software development platform, have won numerous awards and have been featured in many publications worldwide, including The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and Fortune. The company has over 200 customers in more than 25 countries, including General Electric, DaimlerChrysler, Boeing, Honda, France Telecom, Shell, Sandia National Laboratories, Mayo Clinic, and leading universities. More information is available at the company's website at, or by email at

About 3D Systems
3D Systems provides solid imaging products and services that allow users to move quickly from three-dimensional designs to finished parts, at a significantly lower cost and higher quality than more traditional methods.

The company's systems utilize patented stereolithography (SLA™) and 3D printing technologies, which fabricate solid objects from digital input. This process offers significant competitive advantages by substantially reducing the time and cost required to design, develop, and manufacture products.

The company also licenses 3D Keltool®, a commercially proven moldmaking solution that produces prototype, bridge, and production tooling inserts.

Based in Valencia, Calif., 3D Systems was founded in 1986 and is recognized as the world technology and market leader in solid imaging. For additional information, phone (888) 337-9786, ext. 712 or visit the company's web site at


3D Systems, SLA and ThermoJet are trademarks, and Keltool and the 3D logo are registered trademarks of 3D Systems. FreeForm, 3D Touch, GHOST, and PHANTOM are trademarks of SensAble Technologies. IntelliStation is a registered trademark of IBM.

Want to Know More?