3D Systems, Stratasys, Materialize, and Siemens PLM sign on to support Microsoft-back consortium
The 3MF announced new members to kick off July and with that announcement the group sealed their position as the likely ones to establish an advanced format for 3D printing. The companies in the booming 3D printing industry have not so much been holding out for proprietary, or favored formats. They’ve been waiting for a viable contender. At its introduction in May, 2015, 3MF had a good start as a Microsoft initiative – most 3D design products are Windows products. In addition to Microsoft, the founding members included Dassault Systemes, FIT AG/netfabb GmbH, HP, Shapeways, Inc., SLM Solutions Group AG, and Autodesk – a worthy bunch, but there were notable absences including printer companies Stratasys and 3D Systems. With this latest announcement the lineup has been filled out, Stratasys and 3D Systems have signed on as have Materialize and Siemens PLM. The lineup is now very strong with leading CAD companies (Autodesk, Dassault, Siemens PLM), printer manufacturers (3D Systems, HP, SLM Solutions, Stratasys), and Service and Content providers (FIT, Materialise, Shapeways). The members of the 3MF all have their own spiderwebs of relationships that bring along those not signing up to help steer the consortium.
Adrian Lannin, who is the executive director of the 3MF Consortium says the new additions to the membership demonstrate “significant industry momentum behind the adoption of 3MF.” 3MF represents a standard the industry sorely needs. Earlier formats are old, outdated and as the industry has moved forward the formats have mutated and the manufacturers and software companies have adapted leaving a trail of incompatibility and lost functionality. The new standard will enable much more robust development around 3D printing. The first version of the 3MF specification is available for download, and it too is free.
More to come
With the establishment of the 3MF, Microsoft also established the Joint Development Foundation JDF, which was founded for standards and source code development collaboration. The JDF was founded to enable standards organizations and source code projects to start up with standard legal agreements and a turnkey infrastructure including a corporate infrastructure. The service is free.
It may or may not be worth noting, but Microsoft gets a little itchy in standards bodies. The company often finds itself uncomfortable with the established procedures for technology exchange and sharing. We’re sure the company is not alone in this so it’s interesting to see in this case Microsoft built a standards body and a consortium template according to its requirements. It has been Microsoft’s practice to establish its own standards and assume its leadership position would ensure the success of those standards. So, its use of the JDF to bring other companies on board could be seen as another example of the company’s increasing openness and willingness to cooperate with other companies. It’s also a realistic approach since the 3MF would go nowhere without these partners.
More information about the 3MF Consortium and the 3MF specification is available at http://www.3mf.io.