Phoenix Business Journal: Is your business ready for a one-star rating?

The ability to rate products, services, and even companies online has been fantastic for consumers. But it is also a tool that a disgruntled customer can use to seek revenge, and that is not fantastic for the company getting a bad rating.  Managing your online ratings is as important as your search engine optimization.  “Is your business ready for a one-star rating?

Phoenix Business Journal: What does #MeToo mean for your technology business?

The recent #MeToo campaign brought to light how widespread and endemic harassment and assault are in the workplace. Tech companies can often feel they are they are not part of the problem, but #MeToo has shown that they are.  So, “What does #MeToo mean for your technology business?

Phoenix Business Journal: Exploring easy – Make it easy for your customers, keep things simple when proposing new business

Sometimes, in an attempt to impress prospective customers, we bombard them with information during the proposal phase of a project. In “Exploring easy: Make it easy for your customers, keep things simple when proposing new business” I take a look at how starting simple can get you to success faster.

Phoenix Business Journal: Exploring Easy – Give your customers the ability to interact through the web

The web is such an important part of our life now, but many companies do not use web pages and applications to make it easier for their customers to do business with them.  “Exploring Easy – Give your customers the ability to interact through the web” gives some examples of this along with some recommendations.

PADT Halloween Party, 2017

The only day available for our company meeting was October 31st, so we combined the meeting with a Halloween celebration.  We are an engineering company, so not everyone wore a costume.. but we did all have fun.  Check out the slide show:

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Phoenix Business Journal: Exploring Easy – The frustrating difficulty of displacing what works with newer and better technology

After seeing several startup companies that looked fantastic not take off, I started to look the fact that just doing something better was no indicator of success. In “Exploring Easy: The frustrating difficulty of displacing what works with newer and better technology” I look at how making a task or process easier may not be better enough to be successful.

Getting to Know PADT: 3D Printing Services

This post is the sixth installment in our review of all the different products and services PADT offers our customers. As we add more, they will be available here.  As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to info@padtinc.com or give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT.

If there is one service that most people connect PADT with it is our 3D Printing Services.  We have been making prototypes for companies using this ever-advancing technology since we started the company in 1994. As 3D Printing has become more popular and entered the mainstream even beyond engineering, what 3D Printing means to people has changed as well. Along with that, people’s understanding of exactly what it is we do in this area has drifted a little from what goes on. In this month’s installment of our “Getting to Know PADT” series, we will work to provide insight into what 3D Printing Services are and how they can benefit your company.

What is “3D Printing” and “3D Printing Services?”

To start, it should be called “Additive and Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Services, ” but people search for “3D Printing” so that is what we call it.  3D Printing is the common name for what is technically referred to as Additive Manufacturing, or AM.  Most physical parts are made (manufactured) by casting or shaping material into a shape you want, removing material from stock to get the shapes you want, and/or combining physical parts you get by the other two methods. Instead of these well-proven methods, AM creates a part by building up material one layer at a time.  That is why it is called additive – it adds layers of material to get a shape. Here is an older blog article showing the most common technologies used in AM.

The advantage of this approach is that you just need one machine to make a part, you can go straight from a computer model to that part, and you are not held back by the physical constraints of traditional processes. These features allow anyone to make a part and to make shapes we just could not create before.  At first, we only used it for prototypes before parts were made. Then we started to make tools to make final products, and now 3D Printing is employed to manufacturing end-use parts.

In the world of mechanical engineering, where 3D Printing is heavily used, we call companies that use additive manufacturing to make parts for others 3D Printing Service Bureaus or 3D Printing Service Providers. Therefore, the full process of doing manufacturing using the technology is called: 3D Printing Services.

The critical word in that last sentence is “full.”  Sending a computer model to a 3D Printer is just one of many steps involved in Additive Manufacturing.  When the service is employed correctly, it includes identifying the right type of additive manufacturing to use, preparing the geometry, setting parameters on the machine, printing the parts, removing supports, cleaning the parts, sanding, applying a surface finish treatment, and then inspection and shipping.  Anyone can send a part to a printer; the other steps are what make the difference between simply printing a part, and producing a great part.

What Services does PADT Offer?

Additive Manufacturing covers a wide range of technologies that create parts one layer at a time, using a variety of approaches. Some extrude, some harden, some use an inkjet print head, and still others melt material.  What they have in common is creating solid geometry one layer at a time. Each technology has its own unique set of advantages, and that is why PADT offers so many different 3D Printing technologies for our customers.  Each of these approaches has unique part preparations, machine parameters, and post-printing processes. Each with a unique set of advantages.  The key to success is knowing which technology is best for each part and then executing it correctly.

Currently, PADT’s 3D Printing Services Group makes parts for customers using the following technologies.  Each one listed has a brief description of its advantages.  See our website for more details.

Technology

Abbrv.

Advantages

Fused
Deposition Modeling

FDM

Strong parts

Easy operation

Reliability of systems

Broad material choice

Water soluble supports

Fast

Cost

Polyjet

PolyJet

Multiple materials in a single build

Broad material choices

Custom material choices

Multiple colors in single build

Water soluble supports

Accuracy

Stereolithography

SLA

Part quality

Material options

Speed

Speed

Material properties

Self supporting

Selective
Laser Sintering

SLS

Digital
Light Synthesis

DLS

Speed

Production capable

Surface Finish

Material Choices

Material properties

Orthotropic properties

Direct
Laser Melting (Metal)

DLM

Fully dense metal parts

Accuracy

Speed

Part strength

As a proud reseller for Stratasys systems, we feel strongly that the two primary technologies from Stratasys, FDM and Polyjet, are the best for customers who want to do Additive Manufacturing in-house or as a service provider. When customers need something different, they can come to PADT to take advantage of the unique capabilities found in each technology.

How is 3D Printing with PADT Better?

The difference is in what we know and how to execute the complete process.  As a provider of 3D Printing services for over 23 years, very few people in the industry even come close to the amount of experience that we bring to the table.  We also know product development and traditional manufacturing, so when a customer comes to us with a need, we understand what they are asking to do and why. That helps us make the right recommendation on process, material, and post-processing.

A few differentiators are:

  • We know our machines
  • We know our materials
  • We offer a wide range of plastic and metal materials
  • We understand post-processing
  • We understand support removal (we manufacture the leading support removal system)
  • We understand design and manufacturing
  • In-house machining, painting, and part finishing
  • In-house inspection and quality
  • Employees who are enthusiastic and dedicated to providing the right solution.

In addition to all of these things, PADT also offers On-Demand Manufacturing as a Carbon Production Partner. We combine Carbon’s DLS technology with our existing and proven manufacturing processes to provide low volume manufacturing solutions for plastic components.

We are also always looking at the latest technologies and adding what our customers need.  You can see this with the recent addition of systems from ConceptLaser, Carbon and Desktop Metal systems.

 

Next Steps and Where to Learn More

The very best way to learn more about PADT’s 3D Printing services is to have us print a part. The full experience and the final product will explain why, with so many choices, so many companies large and small count on us for their Additive Manufacturing. If you need to learn more, you can also contact us at 480.813.4884 or rp@padtinc.com.

Here are some links that you may find useful:

 

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PADT Triples 3D Printing Capacity with New Large Stereolithography System

The addition of a new UnionTech RSPro 450 further establishes PADT as the leader in Additive Manufacturing technology in the Southwestern US. With a build volume of 17.7 x 17.7 x 15.75 inches, this state of the art Stereolithography(SLA) machine will triple the company’s capacity to 3D Print with SLA technology. It not only allows the printing of larger parts, it can also create multiple smaller parts in less time.  It will join PADT’s two existing SLA machines along with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), PolyJet, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) solutions currently producing parts daily for their customers across the country.

“When we started the company in 1994, one of our first purchases was an SLA machine.  It started our 3D Printing services business, and the technology is still heavily used today.” Said Rey Chu, a co-owner of PADT and the leader for PADT’s Advanced Manufacturing efforts.  “This new system gives us added capacity in size, speed, and material choices. We looked at a wide range of SLA systems and felt that UnionTech provided the quality and robustness we need to keep our customers happy.”

The new system was delivered the second week of October and will be calibrated and producing customer parts by the end of the month.  One of the advantages of the machine is the easy setup and strong calibration capabilities.  The team will be able to produce parts that are about 75% larger than they can currently.  The additional volume and speed will allow for three times as many parts to be printed in a given week than is possible with the current two smaller and older machines.  Initially, a new rigid ABS-like material will be used that produces very strong and precise parts with white plastic.  PADT’s existing pre- and post-processing tools will be applied to this process with little change.

The UnionTech RSPRO 450 SLA System

UnionTech systems are the most popular machines for SLA Additive Manufacturing outside of the United States. They have proven to be reliable, easy-to-use, accurate, and fast.  They are also an open system, allowing users to use any SLA compatible resin that can usually be acquired at a more affordable price than proprietary material solutions.

Stereolithography is the oldest commercial 3D Printing process. It uses photo-curable liquid resins to build parts one layer at a time.  A vat in the machine is filled with liquid material, and a plate is placed just under the surface. Then an ultraviolet laser draws on the very top layer of the liquid, and all of wherever the laser traces, the liquid turns to a solid.  The plate is lowered, a new layer of liquid is spread on top, and the laser creates a new layer. The process repeats until the part or parts are made.

The UnionTech machine is a refined and proven application of this technology that was a perfect match for PADT’s current needs.  Also, the company itself was great to work with, and the local sales and support team have been outstanding.  As the team learns the system, they are finding it to be easy to use as well as simple to maintain and calibrate.  The initial quality of parts has been outstanding.

PADT’s 3D Printing Services

PADT has been the Southwest’s leading provider of 3D Printing services since the company was started over 23 years ago.  The company has survived industry consolidation and a vastly changing landscape by focusing on providing high-quality 3D Printed parts to customers using Fused Deposition Modeling, Polyjet Printing, Selective Laser Sintering, and Stereolithography systems combined with one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teams in the Additive Manufacturing space.

Located in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, PADT’s advanced manufacturing facility currently features ten machines dedicated to printing parts for customers.  The lab includes a full machine shop, part finishing facilities, and an advanced scanning and inspection capability.

This added capability is yet another reason why so many companies large and small count on PADT for their 3D Printing needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our 3D Printing Services or:

 

PADT Partners with 3D Printing Disruptor Carbon to Offer Production Part Manufacturing to the Southwest

The long-term promise of 3D Printing has always been using the technology to replace traditional manufacturing as a way to make production parts.  The various technologies that are considered Additive Manufacturing have been fantastic for prototyping and making tools that are used to manufacturing end-use parts, but rarely work well for production.  Carbon is literally turning the 3D printing world upside down by introducing real production capabilities with their systems. And now that PADT has joined Carbon’s Production Partner Program, on-demand manufacturing using 3D Printing is now a reality in the Southwestern US.

The Production Partner program establishes vetted service providers with 3D Printing and manufacturing experience as manufacturing centers. This allows customers who are early adopters of CARBON’s exciting technology, to find a trusted source for their production parts.  PADT was chosen to participate because of our twenty-plus years of experience as a 3D Printing service provider and more than $5,000,000 in injection molding projects, along with in-house product development, scanning, simulation, and inspection.

PADT will be adding three Carbon M2 printers to our existing 3D Printing facility at our main office in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona. The first two machines will be available for production in early 2018, and the third machine will be online by early summer.  Customers will then be able to order production quality parts in volume and receive them within a week. PADT’s investment and this partnership make the dream of On Demand manufacturing of complex plastic components a reality.

“We have been looking for a low volume plastic manufacturing solution that uses 3D Printing for some time.” Said Rey Chu, co-owner of PADT “Since we started the company we have been providing soft tooling and rapid injection molding.  Once we saw the Carbon DLS technology in action, we knew we found our solution.  The part quality and material properties are as close to injection molded as we have ever seen.”

About Carbon’s Disruptive Technology

Carbon has introduced a revolutionary way to 3D Print plastic components called Digital Light Synthesis, or DLS.  It combines their proprietary continuous printing technology with programmable liquid resins to create parts with the same strength and surface finish of injection molded parts.  The part creation is fast because it is a continuous process, whereas most 3D Printing machines build up one layer at a time with pauses in-between.  This continuous process is not only fast, but it also avoids the stair-steps created with layered methods. This results in textured surfaces and a surface finish that no other process can approach.

Programmable materials are the other technology that enables production quality parts.  This unique approach joins two liquid resins as the build material; one that hardens with light and the other with heat. The 3D Printer creates the desired geometry of the part by using light to shape the first material. Then a second step uses an oven to harden the heat activated resin, resulting in engineering-grade mechanical properties.  Moreover, since the strength comes from a heat cured resin, the properties are the same in every direction. Most 3D Printed parts that use a layered approach are weaker in the build direction.  The other significant advantage of including heat activated resins is that they offer a much broader material selection than light activated resins.

PADT’s On-Demand Manufacturing Service

In the past, when PADT’s customers needed parts manufactured with production quality, surface finish, and strength we had to use soft tooling or low-volume injection molding. Both are expensive and take time to make tools.  3D printing is leveraged to make those tools faster, but it still takes time and labor. Production manufacturing could benefit from going directly from a computer model to a finished part, as we do with prototyping.  When we first saw an early Carbon sample part we knew that this was a technology we needed to watch.  As the technology matured further, it became obvious that this was the process PADT was looking for – this was the type of end-use part our customers were requesting.  Then, when the Production Partner program was introduced, we knew we needed to take part.

Our On-Demand Manufacturing service will be built around the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis process. Initially, we will use three Carbon M2 systems, a cleaning station, and a curing oven.  This will be placed in the middle of our existing advanced manufacturing facility, allowing us to add machining, hand finishing, painting, and other post-processing steps into each production process as needed.

What sets PADT’s offering apart from other providers of production manufacturing with 3D Printing is that we also provide full product development, simulation, and part scanning services to help customers make sure their designs are correct. Before parts are made, we can use our simulation and design knowledge to make sure everything is correct before production begins. And when the parts are completed, we can use our advanced scanning to inspect and our product development testing to verify performance.  By adapting our proven quality to this new technology, we can ensure that every step is done correctly and traceability exists.

Next Steps

You do not have to wait till our production line is up and running.  We can start working with customers now on getting their parts ready for manufacturing with Carbon’s breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis. Our experienced staff can evaluate your components and find the best fit, recommend design changes, and work with Carbon to produce samples. And when our line is up, you can hit the ground running and obtain your parts on-demand, when you need them.

Take part in the transition of manufacturing to faster, better, and on demand by contacting PADT today to learn more.

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Phoenix Business Journal: Debbie Harry sang to me at grocery store about pop culture impacting business

When you find yourself humming to a pop song from your youth while in the grocery store, you may just keep humming. I start thinking about marketing and the ways to leverage pop culture to reinforce your brand and connect with customers. Take a look at “Debbie Harry sang to me at grocery store about pop culture impacting business” to see what conclusions I came to before I got to the produce section.

Phoenix Business Journal: That feeling when what you are selling is working

Nothing makes what you do as a value-added reseller and service provider into focus like a visit to a customer.  A recent trip was a real eye-opener into how our engineers and the products we represent are used in a positive way every day. Take some time to read “That feeling when what you are selling is working” and then take some more time to go visit some customers.

Why I keep toys on my desk, Phoenix Business Journal

I have a lot of toys in my office and on my desk.  Some might consider it unprofessional or even childish.  I don’t disagree. What they are missing is the power of toys and the power of play.  I explore this idea in “Why I keep toys on my desk.”  Also for those of you who are readers of the PADT blog, I’ve included below some images of my favorite ones.

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Phoenix Business Journal: ​When social media is used for evil, does the tech industry have a responsibility?

Social media has changed the world we live in.  It is an extremely powerful way to connect people and share information.  As with any powerful new tool, it can be used for evil along with good.  Which begs the question: ​”When social media is used for evil, does the tech industry have a responsibility?

AZBigMedia.com: The do’s and don’ts of pitching a startup

One of the coolest things I get to do often is to listen to startups pitch their companies. Every single one is an educational experience where I also get to feed off of the passion and drive of entrepreneurs. The problem is, more than half of the pitches I hear are bad. Sometimes it is the delivery, but public speaking is hard for most people, and I can go beyond that. What gets to me is when the speakers just make silly mistakes in what should be a very simple task. After a couple of recent discussions with others who hear many pitches, I have come up with a list of The Do’s and Don’ts of pitching a startup.

Phoenix Business Journal: ​A few thoughts after 100 blog posts

The post “A few thoughts after 100 blog posts” is my 100th guest blog article for the Phoenix Business Journal. That is a lot of 500 or so word rants and missives. Because I like round numbers, and I did write a lot of posts, I figured it would be ok to be a little self-indulgent and go introspective on the whole experience, and talk directly to you, my occasional reader.