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Continued: Stratasys 3-D printers go to work building a car

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 9, 2013 - 4:35 PM

With 18,000 customers, 1,600 employees and $470 million in estimated 2013 revenue, Stratasys is the industry leader. It makes commercial and personal 3-D printers, and has a string of “RedEye by ­Stratasys” ­factories that act as third-party ­contractors for other manufacturers.

“We call it the factory of the future,” said RedEye general manager Jim Bartel last month while leading Kor and others on a tour of the 92 machines that print products for customers around the country.

The odorless factory buzzed with a sound akin to an inkjet printer, but these machines dispensed plastic fibers, not ink. “This is literally printing on demand. So we call this our digital factory,” Bartel said. RedEye has facilities in the United States, Belgium, Turkey and Australia, and will soon open a medical equipment printing plant in Shanghai.

Stratasys CEO David Reis said the technology is ideal for quickly turning prototypes or parts for the likes of Kor Ecolgic and other manufacturers. Sales were $324 million in 2012. Reis just boosted his estimate for 2013 from $455 million to $470 million. Beyond that, he said the company is looking at printing metals. “We are in the process of evaluating metal, but if we do it, we would not do this on our own.”

As for Kor, he said “no thanks” to metal. For him, the beauty of the Urbee is its aerodynamic and lightweight structure. “We tried metal. We built a clay car. We scanned and simulated the aerodynamics,” Kor said.

In the end, the strong plastics proved best.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

  • related content

  • Video: Stratasys helps create car using 3-D printing

    Saturday November 9, 2013

    Stratasys in Eden Prairie prints out parts for a car called the Urbee using a 3-D printer.

  • A part of a Urbee car was placed into the 3D printer that makes it at RedEye by Stratasys in Eden Prairie.

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