Comparing 3D Systems 7000 to Sony SCS-8000D - Final report -

From: SCHAEFER,NICK (HP-Boise,ex1) <nick.schaefer_at_hp.com>
Date: Tue Feb 10 2004 - 03:12:53 EET

Hello All,

Disclaimer> All content contained in this document is the personal
opinions of myself (Nick Schaefer) and my manager, Marvin Quist and in no
way reflects the opinions nor is endorsed by Hewlett-Packard company nor any
other employees of HP. <Disclaimer

First I must make one correction on my last posting. I stated that the
second parts from 3D Systems were programmed on a pre-released version of
Lightyear because that's what the salesman told us. I found out later the
parts were instead programmed using Magics software.

We have made our decision and submitted a PO for the purchase. The final
decision was not an easy one and it is not possible to explain the reasoning
for the one we purchased without several paragraphs of text. Please read
the entire message below for details of the decision.

All of our testing and observations from visiting both companies indicated
that the Sony SCS 8000D was a superior machine and created parts of at least
equal quality to the SLA 7000, and in less build time.

We have however, submitted a Purchase Order to 3D Systems for an SLA 7000.
Please see the list of Pros and Cons below for the details of the decision
and an overview of the data we collected during the evaluation process.

----------------------
3D Systems Advantages:

1. Long time selling systems in the US.
2. Proven performance of service and support of our SLA 250 over the past
several years.
3. SLA 7000 machines have a proven record, with many in operation worldwide.
4. Response from the sales force, Field Engineer, Design Engineers, Software
Engineer and just about everyone at 3D was extremely eager to provide us
with any and all parts and information we requested, and in a very short
time.

Sony Advantages:

1. SCS-8000D builds parts of equal or better quality faster than SLA 7000.

2. SCS-8000 and 8000D in our opinion has the following advantages over SLA
7000
a. More rugged design, for instance the mechanism that drives the wiper
blade appears indestructible, and other areas of the machine are similar.

b. The wiper blade can be removed from the machine very quickly and
replaced to the same location with no problem

c. All resin is contained in the vat assembly.

d. Heating of the vat is done by a heating element attached to the
bottom of the vat instead of heating the chamber such as the 3D SLA
machines.

e. Items a. through d. are advantages that make changing resins and the
vat very easy and fast.

f. Much better control of the laser beam and spot size. The spot size
can be changed throughout the range of smallest to largest and the smallest
is smaller than the 7000. We believe the technology of Sony's laser focal
point control during the build process is also better than 3D Systems.

g. End users have the ability to adjust just about all settings of
hardware and build software desired, although default settings and styles
are available and appear to work fine.

h. There are no restrictions as to what brand of resins can be used.

i. Building of very small, finely detailed parts is clearly better than
SLA 7000.

-------------------------------

General observations of the test part we requested to be built by both
companies:

I designed the part built by both companies with the main goal of testing
the part for appearance, shrinking, warping, and build time. I didn't
design it with the specific intent of testing accuracy and therefore
although I did measure all parts with dial calipers for comparison, none of
the data would qualify as being scientific, but gave us a good idea of what
we can expect from the type of parts we will be building. With that said,
the part accuracy of all parts measured from the SLA 7000, SCS-8000 and our
SLA 250/50 were essentially equal.

The first part we received from Sony appeared to have a better finish and
smoother feel than the first part from 3D Systems. The last visit at our
site from 3D Systems included them bringing a profilometer with them to
check their parts against the Sony parts. The best SLA 7000 part was 2.99um
and the SCS-8000 was 3.44um and the 3D Systems viper part they brought with
them was 1.5um. The difference between the 7000 and SCS-8000 was so small
that it had no bearing on our decision.

The CAD model was created so there was only one possible way the part could
be built without a trapped volume. The first part from Sony was built in
the position without a trapped volume but the two additional parts they sent
us later were built with trapped volumes and they were fine so the rumor
that Sony cannot build parts with trapped volumes was dispelled.

When visiting the US Sony office they gave us a set of chess pieces that
have extremely fine detail of spiral stairs, columns, etc. Viewing these
under a microscope they were quite amazing and in our opinion are clearly
better than can be done on an SLA 7000 and could be at least as good as a
Viper, although we have not seen Viper parts with similar detail so cannot
make a valid comparison.

Best build times for parts of comparable quality are:
  3D Systems SLA 7000 = 8 hours 40 minutes.
  Sony SCS-8000 (single laser) = 8 hours 39 minutes.
  Sony SCS-8000D (dual laser) estimated time of 6 hours and 53 minutes.

When the 3D Systems salesman was here and looked at the Sony parts he said
he was sure that he could have my example part built in 4 hours. My reply
to that was that I would expect the SCS-8000D could also build the part in
much less than 6 hours and 53 minutes but the part quality of both companies
would suffer, and not to worry about building the parts. On Monday we
received a part that was built in 4 hours 4 minutes and on Tuesday we got
another one built in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Both parts were significantly
poorer quality than previous ones. Both had warped walls, air bubbles, and
very deformed areas on exterior walls where an internal web joined them. It
was interesting to see the parts built in a little over 4 hours, but the
quality was bad enough they would have required auto body filler in some
places instead of a coat or two of primer to make them useable for painted
concept models. The other thing I don't know is how many hours and parts
were experimented with before they got one built in less that 4 hours.

There was a lot of talk about the differences of having a fixed or removable
build platform, especially in the USA and therefore Sony representatives
tell us that an optional fixed/removable platform will be available in the
US and machines sold before the removable platforms will be retrofitted at
the request of the owner.

Both companies offered us Magics software which must be better than 3D
Systems Lightyear because all but the first part from 3D Systems was
programmed on Magics instead of their own Lightyear application.

3D Systems made several trips to our site to provide us with all the
information we asked for along with additional information and made every
effort possible to make the sale. They made more parts than we requested,
came up with the lowest price (after several confidential quotations), and
provided very quick replies to all our requests.

The USA Sony office was difficult to get information, parts, quotes, etc.
from. The first part was built in Japan and after it arrived in the US Sony
office it wasn't sent to us without another request from us to see what
happened to it. We were also told they would have a resin vendor contracted
for the US market by the first of 2004, and it was the second half of
January before that was done. Getting additional sample parts and an
official quote from the US office was so difficult we were thinking we would
never see one in time to include them as an option.

As I mentioned in the beginning, it was a difficult decision and I am
convinced we did not purchase the best machine of the two choices.

If the USA Sony office can get organized and their service and support can
generate a proven good performance record over the next year or two they
should have no problem selling machines here. If these two things were in
place today, I'm quite sure we would be installing a Sony SCS-8000D at our
site instead of the SLA 7000.

--------
Best regards,

Nick Schaefer
   Boise Site Mechanical Engineering Services
   Phone: (208) 396-4884
Received on Tue Feb 10 02:46:55 2004

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