Alibre and 3D Systems offer low-cost design/print bundles

Bundles start at $1,500 for 3D CAD software and 3D printer kit. The target is the rapidly growing Maker market of DIY inventors and craft workers.

Low-cost 3D CAD developer Alibre has teamed up with 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems to offer a new software/hardware bundle. The new bundle starts at $1,500 and up, depending on features. Alibre will do the sales and marketing for the bundle.

The 3D Systems BFB-3000, a polymer 3D printer. (Image courtesy 3D Systems)

At the starting price buyers get Alibre Design Personal Edition software, low-cost 2D/3D parametric modeling software and the 3D Systems’ Rapman Kit, a build-your-own 3D printing kit capable of plastic modeling and rapid prototyping. At $4,999 the bundle upgrades to Alibre Design Professional Edition software and 3D Systems’ BFB-3000 3D printer, a pre-assembled 3D printer sized for the users’ desktop, capable of advanced multi-color prototyping with three print heads. The polymer used in the printing process goes for approximatesy $65 per kilogram.

Both bundles offer import and export capabilities via industry standard formats such as STEP, IGES, DXF and DWG as well as STL export capability that provides a direct interface to the Rapman Kit and BFB-3000 printers. The 3D printers in this bundle come from the 3D Systems Bits From Bytes division, which it acquired in 2010. Some of the connecting software comes from the recent acquisition of Sycode, an India software development house. (For more on the 3D Systems acquisition of Sycode see the GraphicSpeak article, “3D Systems buys Sycode and for the Deelip mojo.”)

Alibre will be showing the bundle for the first time at a Maker Faire in San Mateo, California this weekend, and giving a bundle away at their booth.

What we think

The 3D Systems Rapman Kit, assembled. (Image courtesy 3D Systems)

3D Systems just keep popping up with surprises lately, but it is not surprising the deal is with Alibre, a company that never met a bundle it didn’t like. This package deal will sell like hotcakes in the Maker community, and 100,000 shop teachers across America are now scrambling to rearrange their budgets to get (at least) one of the starter kits in time for next year’s classes.

Only a year or two ago a bundle of 3D CAD and printer at $1,500 would be scoffed at, or it would have featured 3D printing technology that used the equivalent of cellophane tape as a building medium. But the polymer used in the Bites from Bytes units is sturdy, in color, and affordable. Give this deal four stars for wow factor.