People talk about automation, mostly with respecte to manufacturing, like it is something that is comming. But “Automation is here and we need to pay attention.” If you don’t understand how computer software, robotics, and sensors are changing every aspect of our lives, odds are you will miss how it will change your business.
Like so much else these days, the way that we deliver training to employees has changed over time to take advantage of new technologies. This is especially true for technical training on how to use hardware and software. The traditional classroom approach has been replaced with online and on-demand training. In “Technical training for employees is changing, is that a good thing?” I put on my curmudgeon hat and talk about why the traditional way has advantages that outway the negatives.
If you have ever implemented a Database appcliation at your business you know it can be a pain. In “5 things to think about when implementing a database product at your business” I go over some lessons that we have learned over time to make the whole process and outcome better.
The project to keep a 1944 P-51 Mustang flying was covered again, this time in 3D Metal Printing Magazine (Pg 23-33). Concept Laser worked with PADT to reverse engineer and print the exhaust manifold from a P-51 to keep it flying. Unlike the other article and video on the project, this reporter used this example as a great way to look at the readiness of military aircraft, and not just antique planes.
As PADT’s Rey Chu says ““This was a great exercise that’s suitable for numerous military applications and very relevant to the future use of 3D metal printing to maintain fleets in the field,” Chu says. “Maintaining spare-parts inventory has become a significant challenge, for example, to the Air Force. Additive manufacturing could be the solution.”
Mostly we make boxes. Pretty boxes but the bulk of what we 3D Print is some sort of plastic box that people stuff electronics in to. Most of the time we also don’t really know what customers do with the objects we make for them. But every once in a while you get involved in a project that really makes a difference. That could not be more true than two recent medical applications for 3D Printing that we worked on with Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
KSL, a local TV station, did a story on our IHC was deploying 3D Printing to produce better outcomes for their patients. You can view the story here.
PADT was fortunate enough to be part of two of the cases mentioned in the story. The first was a St George man who was feeling some pain in his back. He had a scan and they found 12 kidney stones. On top of that, his kidney was not in the right place and was distorted. PADT helped print a model of the scan so that the doctors could just get a real feel for what they were dealing with, and then plan the surgery.
The second situation really pulled at our heart strings. A 10 year old boy needs heart surgery and its a complicated problem. They need a model fast so we worked with Stratasy to quickly print an accurate model so tha the surgeons could come up with a plan. We still have not heard how it went, they are scheduling things, but the feedback from the team was that the 3D model was extremely helpful. We are talking life saving.
Both of these recent situations build on years of examples where we have worked the doctors and their technical assistance to convert scans of patients into usable 3D Models. If you are in the surgery or surgery planning space and want to learn more about how accurate 3D models printed directly from scan data can be used to improve patient outcome, contact PADT at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with our 3D Printing team.
Everywhere you drive in Phoenix you see autonomous cars being tested. These are cool and all, but they also are a sign of a whole new boom in technological change. In “Self-driving cars are driving big changes in tech” I go over some of the key disruptive innovations that will be driven by these new vehicles.
When Cox Communications asked us to be part of its local Smart Home Tour I said yes for one simple reason: I wanted to see a truly connected home. in “3 keys to success for smart home devices” I discuss some of the lessons I learned about IoT devices that actually work in the home.
When I was asked to take part in a demonstration put on by one of our local communication companies, Cox Communications, showing off what a “smart home” looks like, I of course said yes. I love gadgets, and smart gadgets more. On top of that it was another chance to evangelise on the power of 3D Printing. And I got to hang out in a brand new luxury condo in Downtown Phoenix, a post kid lifestyle change that is very appealing. Plus we deal with customers designing and improving Internet of Things (IoT) devices all the time, and this is the perfect chance to see such products in action.
So I packed up one of our Makerbots, none of our Fortus machines fits in the back of my Prius, and headed downtown. The first thing that shocked me was that I had the printer, my iPhone, iPad, and laptop connected to their network in about one minute. The printer showed up on the Makerbot Print app on my iPad and I was printing a part in about three minutes.
The whole point of the demonstration was to show how the new high-speed Internet offering from Cox, Gigablast, can enable a true smart home. So I was focused on the speed of the connection to the Internet, which was fast. What I didn’t get till I connected was that the speed and bandwidth of the WiFi in the house was even more important.
When everything was connected, we had 55 devices on the local network talking to each other and the Internet. At one point I was downloading a large STL file to the printer while on a teleconference on my iPhone and my “roommate” was giving a violin lesson to one of his students in Canada.
Oh, and the roomba started to vacuum the floor. On the balcony someone was giving a golf lesson and a doctor was diagnosing a patient in the master bedroom. That was on top of the smart kitchen gadgets. And it all worked. Yes, it all worked.
I’m trying to convey shock and surprise because the reality is that nine times out of ten when I show up for some event, at a customer, or at a friends house and we try and connect things to the internet… it doesn’t work. If you are a technical guy you know that feeling when your vacation or visit for dinner turns into an IT house call. All I could think of was how awesome it was that everything worked and it was fast.
So I went to work printing little plastic Arizona style houses with COX on the roof. And then a reporter showed up. “3D Printing, interesting. Hmmmm… they are cool and all but really, what does that have to do with a smart house?” Damn reporters and their questions. I was still reveling in the fact that everything worked so well, I hadn’t taken to time to think about the “so what.”
Then I thought about it. 3D Printing in the home is just now starting to take off, and the reason why is actually high-speed internet connections. If you wanted a 3D Printer in your home in the past you needed the printer, a high end computer, and some good 3D modeling software on that computer. Basically you had to create whatever you wanted to make. Unless you are a trained engineer, that may not be so easy.
But with a well connected home you have access to places like Thingiverse and Grabcad to download stuff you want to print. And if you do want to create your own, you can go to Tinkercad or Onshape and use a free online 3D modeler to create your geometry. All over the web, even on a pad, phone (I don’t recommend trying to do modeling on a phone, but it does work), or on a basic computer. The files are stored in the cloud and downloaded directly to your printer. No muss, no fuss. All you need is a reliable and fast connection to the internet and in your home.
High speed internet and a smart 3D printer makes anyone a maker.
And when we had a three hour break, I went downstairs to a coffee shop on the ground floor of the condo and worked, while monitoring my builds using the camera in the smart 3D Printer.
Pretty cool when you step back and think about how far we have come from that first Stereolithography machine that PADT bought in 1994. We had to use floppy disks to get the data from our high-end Unix workstation to the machine. Now it sits on the web and can be monitored.
This may be what we have been waiting for when it comes to 3D Printers in the home moving beyond that technologists and makers.
I’ve been focused on my experience with the 3D printing in the smart home, but there was a lot more to look at. Check out these stories to learn more:
I also did a piece for the Phoenix Business Journal while I was at the event on “3 keys to success for smart home devices” based on what I learned while playing with the other devices in the smart home.
All and all a good day. Oh, and being a 10 minute walk from my favorite pub made the idea of living downtown not such a bad idea, which doesn’t have much to do with high speed internet, connected devices, or 3D Printing. But one of my goals was to check out post-child urban living…
Technology is always changing, and it is changing faster and in more ways. Even if your business is not a “technology” business, new ways of doing things, new business models, and new ways of communicating will impact your business. In “6 ways to adapt your business model to disruptive technology” I explore six simple things that you can do to not just avoid harm by, but to take advantage of disruptive technologies.
We are very pleased to announce our new newsletter, the PADT Pulse. For a while now customers have been asking for a monthly update on what is going on without having to go through our blog. So we are taking the best of what we did in a given month and sharing it in this newsletter.
Not only does it have a recap of important activities, it summarizes our most popular blog posts, shares some outside news of interest, and keeps you up to date on our upcoming events. We hope you enjoy it.
Here is a link to the online version.
And you can subscribe here.
Sometimes we run across some great exampls of industry and academia working together and like to share them as examples of win-win partnerships that can move technology forward and give studends a great oportunity. A current Capstone Design Project by students at ASU Polytechnique is a great example. It is also an early exmple of what can be done at the brand new Additive Manufacturing Center that was recently opened at the campus.
I’ll let ASU Mecanical Enginering Systems student Dean McBride tell you in his own words:
Orbital ATK in Chandler currently utilizes two Stratasys Dimension SST 1200es printers to prototype various parts with. These printers print on parts trays, which must be removed and re-inserted into the printer to start new prints. Wanting to increase process efficiency, Orbital had the desire of automating this 3D printing process during times when employees are not present to run the printers. After the idea was born, Orbital presented this project to ASU Polytechnic as a potential senior capstone design project. Shortly after, an ambitious team was assembled to take on the project.
Numerous iterations of the engineering design process took place, and the team finally arrived at a final solution. This solution is a Cartesian style robot, meaning the robot moves in linear motions, similar to the 1200es printer itself. The mechanical frame and structure of the robot have been mostly assembled at this point. Once assembly is achieved, the team will focus their efforts on the electrical system of the robot, as well as software coding of the micro-controller control system. The team will be working to fine tune all aspects of the system until early May when the school semester ends. The final goal of this project is to automate at least two complete print cycles without human interaction.
Here is a picture of the team with the robot they are building along side the Stratasys FDM printer they are automating.
What do you do when you want to replace the exhaust on a 1944 P-51D Mustang warbird and you also happen to be a pioneer in additive manufacturing? You work with Concept Laser and PADT to can and print a replacement stainless steel part. In “Metal Additive Manufacturing Keeps Legend Flying” Engineering.com details the project that involved blue light scanning and 3D Printing of new metal part in modern Stainless Steel, replacing the three-piece weldment with a single part.
They also did a fantastic video about the effort:
If you would like to learn how PADT can help you reverse engineering your legacy geometry and recreate it using Additive Manufacturing, contact us.
How do competitors work together in a mutually beneficial way? In “How universities can be a needed catalyst and safe place for cooperation” I take a look at the important role Universities can play in enabling this type of cooperation. Based on our own experience in such partnerships, I talk about what Universities can do to take a leadership role in this area.
Artificial Intelligence is one of those technologies that you hear about a lot, but may not notice. In “The future of artificial intelligence: The machines are taking over” I look at what AI is an how it is impacting businesses today and what to look for in the near future for this important technolgy.
Please join Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies in welcoming our new engineering services business development manager, John Williams. John will be an integral part of our growth in helping customers turn their innovations into real products through our advanced engineering capabilities, flexible project management skills and careful vendor selection process.
“With John joining our team, we’ll be able to take our engineering services business to the next level and expand on our offerings,” said Eric Miller, co-founder and principal at PADT. “His sales and business development experience at the national and international level makes him ideal to handle our diverse client portfolio and position us as a major player in this category.”
To help PADT improve its market position in engineering services and product development, Williams will help define long-term organizational goals, build customer relationships, identify new business opportunities, and maintain extensive knowledge of market conditions.
“PADT is a diverse and innovative company that presents a number of exciting opportunities,” said Williams. “I look forward to using my experience and reach to raise awareness of the great engineering expertise the company can provide. Once companies realize how PADT can help them solve tough problems and implement their designs, the word will spread that PADT really does make innovation work.”
Williams brings more than 16 years of sales experience to the position. He joins PADT from Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in South Asia where he was the director of business development. Prior to working at Bell Helicopter, John was Regional Sales Director for Textron Aviation for South Asia. Prior to this, he was President of Williams Consulting Group (WCG) in Phoenix, AZ.
Before starting WCG, Williams spent 12 years with The Boeing Company where he was last responsible for implementing Boeing’s offset programs in India. He also played a key role in successfully winning several large orders for Boeing. Prior to this assignment, Williams was in International Contracts at Boeing Defense Systems where he successfully negotiated and closed several major Commercial and US FMS contracts with foreign governments.
Williams holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Northwestern College. He has numerous professional certifications including a Master’s Certificate in Global Leadership from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management; as well as certifications in various U.S. Federal Acquisition Programs.