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An Interview with Joe Anand, CEO, MecSoft

We have spent a good amount of time talking to people in the 3D printing industry with the goal of providing coverage which is both comprehensive in scope and applicable to everyone interested in this technology. In this next segment in our Expert Interview series, we turn our focus temporarily from the companies who are manufacturing the printers to one that has developed software used in conjunction with them. Mr. Anand, an industry veteran, has been the CEO of MecSoft since 1997. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below.

1) What is it from your background that led you to MecSoft in the first place?
I have led MecSoft since 1997, a company that is a world renowned provider of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software products for the small to mid-market segments. Previously, I worked for Siemens UGS PLM Software running a Custom Projects group implementing specialized projects to address the needs of strategic global partners such as General Motors, Open and General Electric. Prior to that, I was a Software Consultant at Intergraph Corporation working on core 3D CAD/CAM software projects as well as holding senior software engineering positions at Auto-trol Technology and GE Calma. With an MS degree, in Mechanical Engineering my passion for engineering and technology has always led me to seek out innovative new technologies. It is my background and my passions are what brought me to work on the new 3D printing technology.

2) How long has MecSoft been involved with 3D printing? I understand that the industry has actually been around a lot longer than just the last four or five years when it really took off.
MecSoft Corporation has been creating products for the traditional subtractive manufacturing market for the past 17 years and so it was a natural transition for us to move into the additive manufacturing space as well. We are well versed in solving geometry related problems and have extensive expertise in G-code and machine tools. So we have taken this expertise and applied it the emerging 3D printing area, both due to customer demand as well as the general growth of this market.

3) What types of files does your software produce, .STL, .OBJ, others?
Currently our 3DPrint software can output STL (both text and binary) as well as AMF (Additive Manufacturing Format) files. If the user is running Windows 8.1 and is utilizing Microsoft’s 3d printer drivers to interface to their printer, we can output our files to the format (WMF format) these drivers are expecting as well.

4) Can you give us the names/models of the printers and companies that are using your software to pair with their 3D printers? Or, is it the case of where your software can be used with any of a specific type of printer on the market?
Our software can be used with any type of printer as long as the printer can take geometry files of the following formats: STL, AMF and/or WMF.

5) Are there currently any limits as to the types of objects that can be designed with your software? How scalable (small or large) can the designs be? What operating systems is it compatible with?
There are no theoretical limitations on the size and type of objects that can be designed and manipulated in our software. However there are practical limits in so far as the hardware resources that is available to the software. We currently run on all Microsoft supported Windows operating systems on both 32 and 64 bit platforms.

6) How would an interested company partner with your company to use MecSoft software? Is it as "simple" as a license agreement, or is it customizable at all at this point?
A 3D Printer manufacturer can sign up to be a distributor of our product. If they choose to bundle our software with every machine that they sell, we can also come up with an OEM agreement with the partner company.

7) Do you have a particular target audience or industry in mind with your current 3D printing software?
At this point in time we are targeting the general purpose 3D printing market which we see as both the commercial printing market as well as the consumer printing market.

8) Once again, without giving away too much, what other future applications or industries are you hoping to engage with down the road?
We are a market driven company and so we will continue improving the functionality of our product and implementing additional functionality based on what our customer base is demanding.

9) In your mind, given the wealth of 3D printing technologies and devices out there, what makes your software stand out from the crowd?
The seamless combination of powerful modeling and extensive file import functionality with data preparation tools enables the user to 3D print models from almost any input source and any major 3D format. The functionality coupled with the unbeatable price of the product makes it stand alone in the market.

10) Given the explosion in the industry, what do you see from it in the next 5-10 years? Will it continue to become more crowded and do you think we will reach a point where it becomes commonplace for everyday consumers to have a 3-D printer in their house?
We believe that in the near future, that 3D printing will become a viable manufacturing alternative technology and will co-exist with other traditional manufacturing technologies. We foresee this happening in the industrial markets. The consumer market is much more un-defined at this point in time.