Re: Saving Money (DTM and Midwest)

From: David K. Leigh (
Date: Thu Jun 19 1997 - 18:30:13 EEST

> Do you not believe you are paying very high prices for your powder?
> Why has no one taken the lead to band together to force a reduction
> in price from DTM?

Well, this question just opened up a HUGE can of worms.

Maybe I can address this issue from the point of information. Response to
this e-mail is a situation of "damned if ya do, damned if ya don't."

Well, here goes.

Midwest was interested in reducing the cost of materials for their DTM
Sinterstation 2000. After looking around, they purchased materials from
alternate suppliers (not DTM). The materials appeared to run the same and
are significantly less expensive than powders purchased through DTM.

At the same time, there were others involved in the investigation of
alternate suppliers to DTM materials. DTM got wind of several who were
involved in this (including Midwest) and sent them a "package of
information." This information basically requested them to stop the
alternate sourcing of materials due to a "patent violation." The patent
violation referred to using crystalline materials in the Sinterstation
2000. If you did not buy these materials from DTM, you were in violation
of their patent. And. . . DTM would protect its intellectual property.

As far as I know, most companies either stopped purchasing the alternate
materials (or hid the fact real well). Midwest was left standing all
alone. At that point, Helmut had a decision to make. Stand up for what he
felt was a case of monopoly/anti-trust/whatever on DTM's part, or be cowed
by DTM's request. He chose to defend his position and a lawsuit resulted.

The details of the lawsuit are pretty hush-hush, so any hearsay will remain
that way.

So, the issue is:

Is it fair for DTM to take a material that is available in the market and
put their "brand" on it so others cannot buy that material for use in the
Sinterstation 2000 unless purchased through them?

DTM has spent a lot of money developing the Sinterstation and family of
equipment. Their goal was to offer the widest variety of materials for use
on one platform. In doing this, they have tried to use materials familiar
in the engineering world. The kicker is, they tried a material that was
commercially available - Nylon.

Now here's the story on that.

Nylon was first run on an SLS 125 with support structure similar to that
used in stereolithography. The parts were HORRIBLE. They were yellow to
brown in color, warped, and you could barely machine off the supports.

Well, DTM started to work with the supplier to put additives in the
material so that it would process better in the machine. When DTM tried to
run the nylon in the Sinterstation 2000, it didn't work. A huge effort was
made to make the MACHINES compatible with the MATERIAL at this point. A
new IR sensor with a heater block was developed, heat shields were
developed, a downdraft system was developed for the part bed, a nitrogen
block heater was developed, and parameters were finally created in order to
run the material.

So, DTM made a machine that would work with the commercially available

The Question Is, How should they recoup their development cost?

They do have a patent on the MACHINE for use with crystalline materials.

In order to be competetive, DTM does not make Huge dollars on the machines.
 Instead, they spread their profit centers out to cover machines, service,
software, and materials. It appears they are making the lions share of the
profit on materials.


We would probably like to see DTM allow people to buy the materials at the
reduced rate and let them recoup the development costs on the equipment.
But, we wouldn't want to buy the equipment at that cost, because it would
be TOO expensive. So, we want our cake and we want to eat it too. DTM
deserves to make a profit and be viable if they have a good product. I
think they do, but not everyone agrees.

If DTM goes under or does not spend money on the development of new
materials, it does not bode well for my service bureau or the SLS market.

If DTM gouges prices to make a profit, it makes it so that I am not
competive and I go out of business. This does not bode well for me or DTM.

So, DTM has come up with their pricing (which I think is a little high).

It just goads good ole Americans that we can't buy the stuff across the
street and have someone else telling us what to do. I will probably be
flamed or ignored because this message is too long for someone to read in a
day. So, what is the solution? If you are with Helmut and Midwest, don't
just sit around and let him take the punches. If you are with DTM, don't
just sit around and let them take the punches. I'm in the middle. If I go
against DTM, I am fighting myself. If I go against Helmut, I am fighting
myself. I am personally in a no win situation. I wish Helmut all the
luck in his endeavor, and Lady Justice will decide. I wish DTM all the
luck in their efforts and new material endeavors.


"Why can't we just all get along." -- Rodney King

David K. Leigh phone (817) 742-1822
Harvest Technologies fax (817) 742-0053
Rapid Prototyping Services

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