Alibre + 3D Systems: CAD + Rapid Prototyping for As Little As $1,500

Alibre Software and 3D Systems stike up a partnership to bring affordable CAD-rapid prototyping package. (Bundle shown in the photo includes 3D Systems' BFB 3000 and Alibre Design Professional 2011 CAD software.)

Alibre Software and 3D Systems stike up a partnership to bring affordable CAD-rapid prototyping package. (Bundle shown in the photo includes 3D Systems' BFB 3000 and Alibre Design Professional 2011 CAD software.)

Alibre Software, the company that once grabbed headlines by dropping the price of its parametric CAD program to $199, makes another move today. In partnership with 3D Systems, it plans to offer a CAD-3D printing bundle for as little as $1,500, quite possibly the most affordable option in the market.

The bundles are available as follow:

  • $1,500 — Alibre Design Personal Edition + 3D Systems’ Rapman Kit, a build-your-own 3D printing kit
  • $4,999 — Alibre Design Professional Edition + 3D Systems’ BFB-3000 3D Printer, a pre-assembled desktop model with multicolor printing

Special Alibre software editions sold as part of this bundle include some import/export functions you may not get by purchasing the software on its own. The software in the bundle lets you read and write STEP, IGES, DXF, and DWG. They also give you STL export option so you can literally print your CAD designs as 3D parts in the Rapman Kit or the BFB-3000.

Also included in the bundle is MoI (Moment of Inspiration), a surface modeler you normally won’t get with Alibre Design Personal Edition or Alibre Design Professional Edition. (MoI is part of Alibre Design Expert, priced $1,999; it requires a separate download.)

Branching out from traditional CAD market, Alibre began targeting enthusiasts, hobbyists, model makers, and the do-it-yourself crowd (“DIYers,” as the company calls them) with its Personal Edition. (It continues to cater to professional engineers and designers with its Professional and Expert Editions.) The company’s partnership with 3D Systems, a well-known brand in rapid prototyping, gives Alibre software users the ability to create tangible products from their 3D digital designs.

3D Systems sells its Rapman kits and the BFB-3000 model through its Bits from Bytes website. The kit needs to be assembled before you can start printing, so those who want to bypass the self-assembly work may opt for the BFB-3000 instead. V-Flash, 3D Systems’ entry-level model for the professional market, sells for $9,900. Competitors like Objet and Dimension also market entry-level desktop models (Objet24, Objet30, and Dimension uPrint) for roughly $14,000 to $19,000.

Next week, J. Paul Grayson, chairman and CEO of Alibre, Inc., plans to demonstrate the bundle in operation at Bay Area Maker Faire (May 21-22), the annual gathering for the do-it-yourself crowd. Grayson said, “Four years ago, 3D printing solutions cost nearly $25,000 without the 3D CAD software. Alibre and 3D Systems will allow creators, DIYers and Makers the ability to bring their visions to reality without having to outsource the printing. Makers will be able to effectively run 3D printing factories in their own homes, offices or schools for under $1,500, which has been unheard of until now.”

For more, listen to my recorded interview with J. Paul Grayson, Alibre CEO.

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