Get It Made. Dassault Systèmes Marketplace Open for Business
Roopinder Tara posted on September 24, 2020 |
Online market restores broken supply lines.
Dassault Systèmes has sponsored this post.
(Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)
(Image courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.)

The coronavirus pandemic has put engineering and design in a strange place. While software can be used anywhere, at home or in the office, what to do with our designs is now uncertain. No longer can we send the designs over the network to the machine shop—the machinists aren’t there. What if we need a simulation? Are they able to come in to work? You may decide to rely on getting your design 3D printed. But which one?

Although the pandemic was unprecedented, a couple of design software vendors seems to have at least anticipated the need to connect the design function of the engineer to the services needed to bring their designs to life.

The timing could not have been better.

Dassault Systèmes was already building the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service which connects product design engineers to 250 manufacturing service providers who can seamlessly and securely receive the design data and use it to create the physical part in a variety of ways—by 3D printing, machining, bending sheet metal, injection molding or laser cutting.

Our sample part, a holder for hand sanitizer, is visible in the Marketplace viewer where you can view it in 3D, from all angles, and place your order from hundreds of vendors.
Our sample part, a holder for hand sanitizer, is visible in the Marketplace viewer where you can view it in 3D, from all angles, and place your order from hundreds of vendors.

All of these service providers are open for business and eagerly waiting for your design, regardless of the pandemic. These services are also available to all, not just users of Dassault Systèmes’ software such as SOLIDWORKS. With a simple registration, you can access the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace from your browser without requiring a license from Dassault Systèmes. However, if you prefer to stay within the comfort of your design tools, you can do that, too. There is an add-in for SOLIDWORKS that makes the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace available from within SOLIDWORKS with a pull-down menu. The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace can also be accessed from within Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA application and Draftsight.

Not So Long Ago: The Local Service Bureau

If you have been leading your company into 3D printing, you may be accustomed to sending your STL file to a local service bureau. They would produce a quote and you would accept it. You would wait for them to deliver your order, or you would drive over to pick it up. In between, you and the service bureau would work out the details, what would work and what wouldn’t, where the part needed support as it was being built, and would consider overhangs, walls that are too thin and more.

You had learned what the vendor could not make, about the 3D printing capability afforded by the models of printers in use. You learned what materials they had and what new materials they were testing. You accepted that the materials you lusted for, be they carbon fiber, ceramic or a high-strength alloy, were not available. You might even have been able to predict down to the penny what it would cost.

You had, in effect, become a 3D printing expert yourself after nurturing a long-term relationship with your 3D printer service, and together the two of you enjoyed predictability and consistency.

Until the world changed. Until it wasn’t predictable. Until the usual methods of manufacture disappeared. Until supply chains broke.

Enter the Machine Shop as a Service

The pandemic changed everything. Comfortable relationships became tenuous or unpredictable. You are forced outside your comfort zone. You check out the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace. Why not see what’s there?

Visiting the Marketplace

We pay the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service  a visit bringing with us a sample part we’d like to have 3D printed.

You must be registered as a user to access the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, a simple process that requires your email, company name, address, etc. You do not need to be user of Dassault Systèmes software.

The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace opens with 229 vendors after we come in with a single part.

Service providers are selectable by country. A long list of countries needs to be scrolled through to find yours. Typing the first capital letter will narrow the field. Chrome’s suggestions presented in a box manage to obscure some of the countries. The U.S. leads with more than 90 vendors. France has 50 vendors, Germany has 20, the U.K. and Canada each showing 11. As Dassault Systèmes rolls out this service, sellers are currently in North America and Europe, but buyers can be anywhere in the world.

Selecting a “direct quote,” rather than “request quote,” narrows the field. First to pop up is Xometry, the only vendor with a “Prime” designation, part of a program Dassault Systèmes recently started. There is no Help function on the ordering page. We will tell more about Xometry later in this article.

You can click on each vendor for more information about them, and the database will serve up information the vendor has supplied to Dassault Systèmes, such as a sample gallery, materials and processes available and the specific machines for each process.

We upload a part to be 3D printed and it is quickly processed and displayed in a 3D viewer. The part has been checked to be watertight (no missing triangles in the triangulated mesh) and against defects, such as edges shared by more than one triangle, null-area triangles, overlapping triangles, flipped normal and more.

For our sample part, 36 vendors immediately pop up as available. An engineer looking to mend the supply chain would be immediately relieved at this moment. The part can be made – and soon! Delivery times range from 1 day (Xometry) to 10 days. Twenty-seven vendors supplied a wide range of prices, from the lowest of $1.23 (Xometry) to more than a hundred times that ($134.82). This is much easier than sorting out bids. You can sort the results but only by price, and the only quality criteria at this point is tolerance. The lowest tolerance for our sample part is 0.1%, (again, from Xometry).

Judging by the results so far, it might appear that Xometry has scored an extremely lopsided win in our limited testing. However, this may not always be the case with all manufacturing processes and with buyers for whom Xometry is not local. We hope other ways to judge vendors will be made available as the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace grows. For example, buyers’ reviews and ratings, very useful on consumer shopping sites (like Amazon) may swing the choice toward smaller, niche and local vendors with loyal followings.

The price initially listed may be a first-pass approximation, as there still displays a “select for quote” button.

An explanation of the 3D printing process is supplied. We selected “any process.” All processes are displayed include photopolymerization (SLA, DLP, VAT, CDLP), material extrusion (FDM), binder jetting, material jetting (MJ, NPJ, DOD), directed energy deposition (DED, LENS, EBAM) and powder bed fusion (PBF, SLS, DMLS, SLM, MJF, EBM). However, not all may be available. The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace will refine the number of vendors with the selection of each process.

You are guided very logically through the steps. Next, we select material. Curiosity has us select metal which bumps the price 10X ($12.58, Xometry) to almost $300 and we hastily retreat to plastic. The type of plastic can be selected from over a hundred choices of available materials. Only the name of the material is shown without information on each one. Most names are proprietary materials of each vendor and may be unfamiliar to the user of the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace.

You have to keep scrolling the screen to see the effect on price with each selection. On our wishlist for the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, we request to have the price constantly visible without having to scroll.

Our next step is select a finish and other services. Here is where sanding, support mark removal, bead blasting and more are specified. All “finishes” are listed though all may not apply. “None” is not an option but making no choice has the same effect.

Upon completion, you are told the quotation is pending. You will receive a quotation via email and you can also check the site for updates.

Xometry: A Closer Look

Xometry is the current darling of online manufacturing services, and one of the stars of the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace. Engineering.com readers are quite familiar with Xometry from our previous coverage.

Injection molded by Xometry. A “tuning fork” attached to a bow to sight the placement of the bowstring. (Image courtesy of Earlyhuman, LLC.)
Injection molded by Xometry. A “tuning fork” attached to a bow to sight the placement of the bowstring. (Image courtesy of Earlyhuman, LLC.)

In all areas you would score vendors from the information the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace provides, including service reach, price, accuracy and delivery. With our sample part, Xometry placed 1st.

Xometry is a one-stop-shop for CNC machining, 3D printing (plastic and metal), injection molding and sheet metal. It has by itself created one of the biggest networks of manufacturers (over 4,000) in the U.S. and worldwide. Xometry also offers an instant quoting engine, so you don’t have to wait for a technician to deliberate over your part and email you a quote.

Copper sheet metal part made by 3D Hubs (Picture courtesy of 3D Hubs.)
Copper sheet metal part made by 3D Hubs (Picture courtesy of 3D Hubs.)

A Generous Offer

Overall, Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service is a friction-free, very accessible gateway to hundreds of manufacturing services, all with their doors open despite the pandemic. This should not only reduce anxiety caused by the disruption of manufacturing services, but the immediate approximation of part cost that some the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace sellers provide could also eliminate days, if not weeks, of waiting from the design-manufacturing cycle and leave you better off than you were pre-pandemic.

Plus, the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace is available to all, not just users of Dassault Systèmes applications

To learn more, visit Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Make service.

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