@all... lol, thanks, especially to JimT - I now feel ancient, I too was a user of CADDS (CV) "back in the day" :)
The path of 3D Systems is one to watch for sure, also the plight of software companies acquired by hardware companies is tradionally not a pretty picture. At any rate, they are making what I percieve as the "mad dash" to be the king of the 3D hill, in much the same way that Autodesk acquired all of their technologies over the years and created a suite of products.
Should be a fun scrum to watch as all the players in both the hardware and software markets related to this industry segment begin to posture and move about, unveiling their designs.
Methinks 3D Systems is no where near done with it's acquisitions. Speculation indicates that they will likely move on a real hardware scanning product/vendor relatively soon to complete their scan to print picture. There really is no need to acquire a company like RapidForm if they are intent on sewing up photogrammetry meshes. RapidForm is geared more towards the precision scanning/engineering market when considering it is a pretty pricey piece of software and it's industry is "reverse-engineering".
Think I'll grab a bag of popcorn and watch this industry segment for the next 6 months - 3DS sure is stirring the pot!
Sounds to me like 3D-Scan-Man is a great resource on this topic. With all the recent acquisitions by 3D systems, I've lost track of what equipment is now under their control. Maybe an historical timeline, or a box-to-box "Org-Chart" would shed some light on their current corporate configuration.
BTW, I laughed out-load when I read the NURBS comment from 3dscanman - That acronym is one I haven't heard of in a very long time, since my days using CV-CADDS-4x, in the late 80's. It stands for Non-Uniform-Rational Basis-Splines - NURBS. Wikipedia has a great page on it, FYI.
@3dsscanman: Excellent summary of a market that's been around for a bit, but definitely flown under the radar screen for many engineers and smaller organizations. I agree that this 3D Systems acquisition will shine the spotlight on the technology and give it some good exposure. With companies like Autodesk also doing work on point cloud technology in the cloud and with the price of the printers/scanners going down, I think this is going to be a key and on-going part of the 3D printing story, both on a professional and consumer level.
Ann, there are several players in the "RE" space, converting point clouds (scans) to meshes for modeling and 3D printing (STL/FDM/et al) has been around for a very long time now - since the early 90's. The advent of more robust scanning devices led to the proliferation of software vendors that specialize in this industry segment. As these vendors have arrived, the capabilities of these softwares has also matriculated to include NURBS (freeform) and CAD (analytical) modeling - all of which can be utilized in a number of downstream applications that include digital inspection, CAD, CAM and CAE (FEA, CFD, et al).
Other software that immediately comes to mind besides RapidForm is Polyworks and Geomagic. These companies have been at these processes for quite some time now. Like 3D printing... which has been around for a very long time (decades), with the acquisition of RapidForm, 3D Systems is floating the boat of this industry as well, due to their visibility and agressive media position, to the otherwise unkowingly public.
Beth, you said "XOR can be tapped to create 3D models of existing parts that have no 3D definition." In other words, sort of like reverse engineering a CAD drawing from the existing part? If so, wow, I didn't know that could be done. Sounds like an amazing ability of a tool--are there others that do this?
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