According to a recent announcement, Roland DGA Corp. and MecSoft Corp. are teaming up at SolidWorks World 2011 to demonstrate a new design-to-part workflow for Subtractive Rapid Prototyping (SRP) technology that “[offers] several advantages over 3D printers.” This workflow combines VisualMILL for SolidWorks CAM software from MecSoft with Roland MDX milling machines that provides a “powerful solution for producing parts and prototypes from a wide range of non-proprietary materials including aluminum, ABS, Acetal, Nylon, acrylic, polycarbonate, wood, plaster and polystyrene.” I’m interested. What will they show at their demonstration? Rapid prototyping has become very important in recent years as companies of all types are seeking to find ways to bring their products to market quickly in order to remain competitive.
As I’ve noted over the years, there are not many CAM applications that run within SolidWorks. VisualMILL for SolidWorks is fully integrated inside SolidWorks as a Gold Partner. This allows Roland MDX users to process their parts in a familiar design environment. This also means that programming can be done inside of SolidWorks instead of going through an error prone file conversion process.
I’m not necessarily sold on this idea yet. I’ve not personally seen effective use of alternatives to 3D printers. But it is interesting to see an integration between a rapid prototyping technology with a CAM package. I’ll try to check out their demonstration at SolidWorks World 2011 next week and provide additional details here as appropriate.