Stratasys announced it is branding the product group as FORTUS 3D Production Systems, available from Tasman Machinery . The company has seen solid revenue growth for these high-end systems and a growing percentage of the business going to direct digital manufacturing applications compared to traditional rapid prototyping.
“Rapid prototyping still remains our customers’ largest application,” says Fortus VP of International Sales & Marketing, Woody Frost, “but direct digital manufacturing has become the fastest growing revenue source at Stratasys – even faster than 3D printing. “Since Stratasys introduced Dimension and RedEye as individual brands several years ago, there has been some confusion about the identity of our flag-ship product line. Informally it has been called the FDM Group or the High-End Systems line. By branding this line as Fortus, we aim to give it a distinct and powerful brand name. Because our reputation was built on our part strength, we created a word based on the Latin word for strength.”
Direct digital manufacturing (DDM) refers to the ability to make production parts directly from 3D CAD files. The market has been growing as manufacturers seek faster and less expensive alternatives to traditional methods of production for short-runs of parts or manufacturing tools (used in the production of other goods). Wohlers Associates, a consulting firm focused on rapid product development, estimated that over the last five years the direct digital manufacturing market grew from about 4 percent to nearly 15 percent of the additive fabrication market. In 2008, Fortus system revenues from direct digital manufacturing applications were more than double that percentage at about 35 percent. Direct digital manufacturing is believed to be a $170 million market, according to Wohlers Associates.
“We have customers using direct digital manufacturing to produce jigs, fixtures and other manufacturing tools in less than a quarter of the time and at a fraction of the price of traditional processes,” says Frost. “It’s not surprising that direct digital manufacturing has become an important growth market for our high-end systems. In today’s economic environment, the return on investment from direct digital manufacturing is too compelling to ignore.”
The Fortus product line comprises four systems with build envelopes ranging from 768 cubic inches to more than 31,000 cubic inches (12.58 liters to more 500 liters). All can produce parts from production-grade thermoplastics, direct from CAD files, making them effective for either precision prototyping or direct digital manufacturing applications.