The Greater Boston 3D Design Cluster

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Manchester, NH
CEO: Ian Howell

Newforma was founded in 2003 by seven industry professionals. The company launched its flagship product Newforma Project Center, in 2005. It is used by architects, engineers, and construction specialists to organize and manage project information. The software has modules for project monitoring, contract administration, BIM/CAD reviews, and the like. Newforma just over 28,000 users

Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC)
Needham, MA
CEO: Jim Heppelmann

PTC was founded in 1985 and is focused on software for manufacturing. The company’s main product is the Windchill suite, a portfolio of integrated product life cycle management products. PTC also markets the 3D program ProEngineer, widely used within the automotive industry for the design of power trains and engines. ProEngineer is a classical 3D-parametric MCAD-program, but PTC also offers CoCreate, a direct editing program suitable for early design phases and collaboration. PTC’s fastest growing product, however, is InSight, a software system for environmental compliance.  PTC has about 775,000 users world wide.

SensAble Technologies [[Story updated with company addition on 6/29/10]]
Woburn, MA
CEO: Curt Rawley

SensAble Technologies was founded in 1993, and is a developer in 3D touch-enabled and haptic design technology, for products from dental restorations to toys to robotics. SensAble’s technology is based on 3D pixels (called “voxels”) and its haptic design device allows users to feel designs evolve as they are creating them, rather than just see them on screen. In 2006 the company launched a division specifically dedicated to designs in the dental industry.

Concord, MA
CEO: Jeff Ray

SolidWorks was founded 1993 by Jon Hirschtick. Together with his team, he developed the first 3D CAD system that worked on PCs. His idea was also that CAD software should be easy to use and affordable.

In 1997 SolidWorks was acquired by Dassault Systemes, a French company best known for its Catia program, which is mainly used in automotive and aerospace industry. Being a mid range product, SolidWorks complements Dassault Systemes’ portfolio (Catia is a high end program). SolidWorks has over1 million users.

Concord, MA
CEO: Chris Randles

SpaceClaim was founded 2005 by Mike Payne, now chairman of the board. The company aims to lead the market for direct modeling software for solid, 3D objects, expanding the use of 3D to non-CAD experts and for conceptual design, model preparation, industrial design, and manufacturing. Since models in SpaceClaim’s software aren’t constrained by rigorous physical parameters, it’s easy to change their geometry. So before engineers do time-consuming detailed design in a traditional CAD model, they can explore and validate concepts, simulate different outcomes and so forth.

The compay’s business is split roughly even between Americas, Europe and Asia. Space Claims customers are found within the automotive industry and other manufacturing companies.

Z Corporation
Burlington, MA
CEO: John Kawola

Z Corporation was founded in 1994 to commercialize 3D rapid-prototyping printers first developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company sold its first machine in 1996, and has since deployed thousands of the printers to design, architecture, engineering, and manufacturing firms around the world. The company’s early printers worked by depositing a liquid binding material on a layer of powder, building up 3D models section by section. Its most recent device, the ZBuilder Ultra, creates plastic prototypes using a digital light processor projector to solidify a photosensitive liquid polymer, one cross section at a time. Engineers and product designers use the machines to make sure parts will work and fit together as intended before large-scale production.

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Eva Regårdh is a tech journalist from Sweden. She is an Innovation Journalism Fellow 2010 at Stanford University and is working for Xconomy during her fellowship. Follow @

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5 responses to “The Greater Boston 3D Design Cluster”

  1. G. Courter says:

    Michael Payne was not the founder of SpaceClaim, but rather David Taylor and Blake Courter.