Getting a new product manufactured is one of those critical steps that new companies often assume is just a matter of finding a vendor and outsourcing it. In “Getting your product made: 6 suggestions for outsourcing the manufacturing of your product” I go over some suggestions on how to make this critical step a success.
September is here and it is a jam packed month of events, many of them related to BioMedical engineering. We are continuing with ANSYS webinars and talking about 3D Printing as well. See what we have below:
The UMA Summit is a day long event filled with networking, guest speakers and informative information. In between speakers network with our vendor booths and see the latest products and services available for the Manufacturing Industry. PADT will be there with lots of example of 3D Printing and ready to engage on how manufacturing really does drive innovation. Check out the event page for times and an agenda.
September 15: Scottsdale, AZ
ANSYS Arizona Innovation Conference
ANSYS and PADT are pleased to announce that we be holding a user meeting in Scottsdale for the entire ANSYS use community. Join us for an informative conference on how to incorporate various productivity enhancement tools and techniques into your workflow for your engineering department. ANSYS Applications Engineers and local customers like Honeywell, Galtronics, On Semi, Ping, and Nammo Talley, will discuss design challenges and how simulation-driven product development can help engineers rapidly innovate new products. See the agenda and register here.
September 19: Phoenix, AZ
Seminar: Medical Device Product Development for Startups – The Bitter Pill
We will be kicking off our Arizona Bioscience Week with this a free seminar at CEI in Phoenix with a sometimes brutally honest discussion on the reality of medical device product development.
No one wants to discourage a good idea, and entrepreneurs make it a long way before someone sits them down and explains how long and expensive the engineering of a medical device product is. In this one hour seminar PADT will share the hard and cold realities of the process, not to discourage people, but to give them the facts they need.
Get the details and register here.
September 21-22: Minneapolis, MN
Medical Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis
PADT Medical will have a booth with our partner Innosurg at this premier event for medical device development. For 22 years, Medical Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis has been the medtech innovation, communication, and solution epicenter of the Midwest. Now over 600 suppliers strong, and with more than 5,000 industry professionals in attendance, the event provides the solutions, education, and partnerships you simply won’t find anywhere else. Learn more here. And if you are attending, please stop by and say hello, we are in booth 1643.
Join PADT and others for this annual event that recognizes those that contribute to the growing AZ BioTech community. The awards will be made by PADT’s 3D Printing team again this year. Stop by our table to say hello. Register here.
September 21 & 22: Phoenix, AZ
White Hat Investor Conference
The West was won by innovators, investors, and prospectors who understood the value of discovery and accepted the challenge of investing in new frontiers. PADT will be joining others in the investment community to meet with and hear from companies (32 are signed up to present right now) in the Bioscience space and to also share ideas and network. Registration for this special event can be found here.
Geek out on all things technology. The New Mexico Tech community will gather the best and the brightest entrepreneurs, technicians, hackers, and tech fans for presentations, talks, meet-ups, and parties; all to highlight the vibrant tech community in our city. The Conference takes place on the final day of a week of events, and will focus on HR, CRM, Manufacturing, and Creative concerns of the tech community with panels and presentations. PADT’s Eric Miller will be presenting in two “MakeIT” sessions.
Learn more here.
|Wednesday, September 7, 2016 – 1:00 PM AZ/PDT, 12:00 PM MDT
Investigating Signal Integrity: How to find problems before they find you
|Thursday, September 29, 2016 – 4:00 PM AZ/PDT, 3:00 PM MDT
SAE Webinar: Additive Manufacturing: From Prototyping to Production Parts
Having the right product development team is critical to the successful development of a new product. In “How to assemble the right product development team” I take a look at what PADT has learned through the years about what makes a great team.
As a parent I know that crayon management has always been a problem in our family, especially when we travel. We could have used the ReadyXO – a simple container that cleverly uses the lid to provide stability so it doesn’t tip over. Now is your chance to control your crayons and help fund a great entrepreneur, and PADT customer, through KickStarter.
This is a great idea, a simple solution, by an individual entrepreneur who applied good problem solving and engineering to develop a solution to something that most of us have dealt with when we were kids or as parents.
Check out the details at:
Scroll down and read “The Story.” If you didn’t want to get one out of simple necessity, when you hear about the inventor’s journey you will want to back this enterprise immediately.
One of the best parts of working at PADT is helping our customers make their ideas work. From a new valve actuator on the International Space Station to clever gadgets. Sometimes we see some great ideas from individual inventors that solve a day-to-day problem with a simple and elegant solution and get to help out just a little on their journey. This is a fantastic example of that.
Help us help them by pre-ordering your ReadyXO Crayon Box on KickStarter and spread the word through social media.
This was the opening line from a presentation given by the VP of sales for a major engineering software company. It got my attention because it wasn’t hype or hyperbole. He was just pointing out the obvious. Over the past two years the signs have been there. Smart devices will connected to the internet, and older devices will be made smart and then connected. Those that don’t, will no longer be competitive.
It is not all about smart thermostats. Far from it. I went to IoT world in San Jose last week and saw a lot of people scrambling to find their solution. And a few that found them. The best example was an older letter stamping machine, you can guess at the manufacturer, that plugged a modular device from Electric Imp in to their controller and boom – they were connected. Some back end programming and they now had a competitive IoT device.
When we visit customers, we will often ask them what their IoT Strategy is. The answers vary from “we don’t really think our products have an IoT play” to existing products on the market. The focus in the media is on consumer IoT products, but the bigger push right now is for industrial Internet, where machines used in manufacturing, energy generation, raw material extraction, and processing are smart and connected.
Customers from consumers to other companies will be requiring the benefits of IoT devices as they look to replace older hardware. That is why every company that makes physical products needs to develop an IoT strategy.
PADT Can Help
We have been helping our customers define and implement their approach to IoT well, since before it was called the Internet of Things. From assisting semiconductor companies that make MEMS sensors to making smart medical devices we are plugged in to what is needed to make IoT work.
There you can find some basic information about how PADT is a more comprehensive and technically capable solution then most design houses that claim to have IoT solutions. We are uniquely qualified to make sure the “Thing” in your IoT strategy is designed and manufactured right.
- My cat didn’t preheat the oven: Is your company ready for the Internet of Things?
- Sensors and controls: Making a product smart enough for the Internet of Things
- Connectivity: What makes the Internet of Things a big deal
- How to deal with all that data from your Internet of Things device
- Security: This is the biggest challenge for the Internet of Things
Simulation can play a big role in almost every aspect of making your IoT device development faster and more productive. PADT uses ANSYS, Inc.’s comprehensive Multiphysics simulation tool set to model everything from the chip to the embedded system software.
We highly recommend this white paper, “Engineering the Internet of Things”
We also have a recording of a very popular webinar that we did: “Engineering the Internet of Things Devices with ANSYS Simulation”
and this video on how ANSYS can drive your IoT Design:
For detailed examples, check out the ANSYS IoT Landing page to get a feel for why so many companies are driving their design with ANSYS simulation software: www.ansys.com/iot
Talking is the Best Approach
We hope that you find all of the material above, and the information we will provide in the coming months useful. But they are no substitute for giving us a call or sending us an email and setting up a face-to-face to talk about your IoT strategy and device development needs. If you are doing the work in-house, we have the hardware and software tools you need to be successful. If you need outside help, you won’t find engineers with more applicable experience.
Give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT or email email@example.com.
PADT talks a lot about synergy as a key strength and a key element of the value we provide to our customers. Our three departments, Manufacturing, Services, and Sales, are in constant communication, always leveraging one another’s expertise to solve problems. Strong internal relationships — a consequence of being under the same roof — precipitate easy and abundant information and resource sharing. Communication, paradigm, alignment, synergy: clear as day.
But what does any of that mean?
When a PADT product development customer meets us for the first time, he or she may be shown a slide that looks like this:
Strong bilateral communication among the Product Development, 3D Printing, and Analysis groups means that the project is enriched by contributions from experts across several fields, multiplying the value we add in the development process. For instance, the product will likely someday run into a sticky problem without a clear solution. PADT can attack it from multiple angles, such as design adjustment, finite element analysis (FEA) optimization, and the iterative testing of 3D printed prototypes.
Ok, but still: what does any of that mean?
A longtime customer of PADT’s product development group recently ran into an urgent problem without a clear path to a solution. Their manufacturing partner called them and said that a particular subassembly in their design will cost three times more than expected, which would raise the price of the product above the maximum the market would bear. PADT was presented with the problem: how do we reduce the subassembly cost by 66% while maintaining overall performance, and how do we confidently select a solution in under a week?
PADT’s three engineering groups jumped in to help.
The Product Development group held a brainstorming session and came out with two adjustments to bring overall cost down. First, the subassembly of three bonded unique steel parts would be replaced by a single injection molded plastic part. This change reduces component cost to within the target, but also significantly reduces the final assembly’s structural integrity.
Secondly, a plastic stiffener truss was added between components to mitigate the reduction in overall stiffness. This change adds a little assembly cost, but also significantly increases the final assembly’s structural integrity, which had been weakened by the first change.
The Analysis group conducted a series of FEA simulations, first to determine the increased bending under load and second to select a material to balance the conflicting requirements for stiffness, strength, and cost. After multiple simulation iterations, it was determined that Product Development had selected a permissible path forward and that a glass-filled polypropylene provides the best combination of the three parameters.
The 3D Printing group then printed the new design for qualitative “look and feel” testing and quantitative force/deflection study. The group was able to closely match the properties of the selected material from their collection of printable filaments and top-shelf industrial printers, reproducing even the fine details — subtle fillets, radii — that boost strength but are missed with lower quality printers. Through prototype tests, it was determined that Analysis selected an appropriate material and Product Development selected an appropriate design.
In the end, PADT was able to confidently select a solution to the customer’s unique cost problem in under a week. Thanks to the synergy of three groups — Product Development, Analysis, and 3D Printing — the customer was able to stay on schedule and enter the market at a relevant price.
So how can PADT help my product?
PADT’s system for delivering services is a textbook example of synergy in action, and it represents a uniquely effective solution to your company’s product problems. Whether you’re in concept design or high-volume production, PADT will tailor-make a solution that fits your budget, schedule, and technical requirements.
Give us a call at 1–800–293-PADT or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Product Development is a key part of what PADT does, but we often struggle with sharing what we do in this area and why we do it better. We are engineers. To help, we put together this video that asks our engineers the key questions that customers ask every day, and their answers truly do show how “We Make Innovation Work.”
See something you like or have more questions, give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT or email email@example.com.
Getting a product from idea to the market is a lot of work. Much effort and attention is focused on figuring out the idea, but the part after that is usually portrayed as some romantic quest involving coffee, colocation spaces, and long hours. In this article, “So, you have an idea for a product, what next?” we offer up some practical advice on the steps you need to take to get going.
PADT and CEI are teaming up to answer any startup’s questions about engineering and manufacturing for their physical product. Over the years we have found lots of early stage companies who benefited from spending a little bit of time with an experienced product development engineer. Finding time for them to stop by PADT was always difficult to schedule and never seemed worked out. Or we would meet people at events and try and talk in a corner, still not good.
So last month during Phoenix StartupWeek CEI and PADT tried having some time where people could stop by and talk. It went really well for everyone involved, so Design Days was born.
Our first one will be held on April 14, 2016 at CEI’s offices in Phoenix. The idea is simple, you get one hour with an experienced mechanical engineer to talk about whatever you want. We can spend the time talking about:
- Suggestions for how to properly design your product
- Get contacts at local resources that can help you
- Brainstorm solutions to technical problems
- Discuss the weather (it’s your hour)
- Get an idea of what it would take to design and prototype your product
- Answer questions about software and hardware tools you may need
- Bounce ideas off someone new
- Review manufacturing options
- Get advice on the next steps you should be taking
- Or whatever else you want to discuss
You don’t have to be an existing CEI client, a new company or an old one. You just need to want to talk to our engineers.
Sign up for one of the available one hour slots here. Our plan is to do this once a month, and if it works, try some other incubators as well.
Here is some basic information you should be aware of:
- Do not ask for Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). PADT engineers operate under a strict company code of ethics; therefore no additional NDA is required.
- This is meant for companies developing physical products, not software.
- It is open to companies at ANY stage of development, not just startups. Entrepreneurs of any age, including students, are also welcome.
- This is not a discussion about funding nor is it a sales pitch (from either side)
- Do not expect a functioning prototype or design nor will PADT engineers solve your technical problems. To fully engage in PADT’s design, prototyping and simulation services, there will be a cost involved to be agreed upon by both parties.
Have you heard? It’s Pi Day! This post, “5 reasons why nerds celebrate Pi Day” shares the reasons why those of us in the know like Pi day so much.
At a recent Lunch-n-Learn organized by the Arizona Technology Council, I had the opportunity to speak for 10 minutes on 3D printing. I decided to focus my talk on trying to answer one question: how can I determine if 3D printing can benefit my business? In this blog post, I attempt to expand on the ideas I presented there.
While a full analysis of the Return-On-Investment would require a more rigorous and quantitative approach, I believe there are 5 key drivers that determine the value proposition for a company to invest in 3D printing, be it in the form of outsourced services or capital expenditure. If these drivers resonate with opportunities and challenges you see in your business, it is likely that 3D printing can benefit you.
1. Accelerating Product Development
3D printing has its origins in technologies that enabled Rapid Prototyping (RP), a field that continues to have a significant impact in product development and is one most people are familiar with. As shown in Figure 1, PADT’s own product development process involves using prototypes for alpha and beta development and for testing. RP is a cost- and time effective way of iterating upon design ideas to find ones that work, without investing in expensive tooling and long lead times. If you work in product development you are very likely already using RP in your design cycle. Some of the considerations then become:
- Are you leveraging the complete range of materials including high temperature polymers (such as ULTEM), Nylons and metals for your prototyping work? Many of these materials can be used in functional tests and not just form and fit assessments.
- Should you outsource your RP work to a service bureau or purchase the equipment to do it in-house? This will be determined by your RP needs and one possibility is to purchase lower-cost equipment for your most basic RP jobs (using ABS, for example) and outsource only those jobs requiring specialized materials like the ones mentioned above.
The video below contains several examples of prototypes made by PADT using a range of technologies over the past two decades.
2. Exploiting Design Freedom
Due to its additive nature, 3D printing allows for the manufacturing of intricate part geometries that are prohibitively expensive (or in some cases impossible) to manufacture with traditional means. If you work with parts and designs that have complex geometries, or are finding your designs constrained by the requirements of manufacturing, 3D printing can help. This design freedom can be leveraged for several different benefits, four of which I list below:
2.1 Internal Features
As a result of its layer-by-layer approach to manufacturing a part, 3D printing enables complex internal geometries that are cost prohibitive or even impossible to manufacture with traditional means. The exhaust gas probe in Fig. 2 was developed by RSC engineering in partnership with Concept Laser has 6 internal pipes surrounded by cooling channels and was printed as one part.
2.2 Strength-to-Weight Optimization
One of the reasons the aerospace industry has been a leader in the application of 3D printing is the fact that you are now able to manufacture complex geometries that emerge from a topology optimization solution and reduce component weight, as shown in the bracket manufactured by Airbus in Figure 3.
2.3 Assembly Consolidation
The ability to work in a significantly less constrained design space also allows the designer to integrate parts in an assembly thereby reducing assembly costs and sourcing headaches. The part below (also from Airbus) is a fuel assembly that integrated 10 parts into 1 printed part.
Nature provides several design cues, optimized through the process of evolution over millenia. Some of these include lattices and hierarchical structures. 3D printing makes it possible to translate more of these design concepts into engineering structures and parts for benefits of material usage minimization and property optimization. The titanium implant shown in Figure 5 exploits lattice designs to optimize the effective modulus in different locations to more closely represent the properties of an individuals bone in that region.
3. Simplifying the Supply Chain, Reducing Lead Times
One of the most significant impacts 3D printing has is on lead time reduction, and this is the reason why it is the preferred technology for “rapid” prototyping. Most users of 3D printing for end-part manufacturing identify a 70-90% reduction in lead time, primarily as a result of not requiring the manufacturing of tooling, reducing the need to identify one or more suppliers. Additionally, businesses can reduce their supplier management burden by in-sourcing the manufacturing of these parts. Finally, because of the reduced lead times, inventory levels can be significantly reduced. The US Air Force sees 3D printing as a key technology in improving their sustainability efforts to reduce the downtime associated with aircraft awaiting parts. Airbus recently also used 3D printing to print seat belt holders for their A310 – the original supplier was out of business and the cost and lead time to identify and re-tool a new supplier were far greater than 3D printed parts.
4. Reducing Costs for High Mix Low Volume Manufacturing
According to the 2015 Wohlers report, about 43% of the revenue generated in 3D printing comes from the manufacturing of functional, or end-use parts. When 3D printing is the process of choice for the actual manufacturing of end-use parts, it adds a direct cost to each unit manufactured (as opposed to an indirect R&D cost associated with developing the product). This cost, when compared to traditional means of manufacturing, is significantly lower for high mix low volume manufacturing (High Mix – LVM), and this is shown in Figure 6 for two extreme cases. At one extreme is mass customization, where each individual part has a unique geometry of construction (e.g. hearing aids, dental aligners) – in these cases, 3D printing is very likely to be the lowest cost manufacturing process. At the other end of the spectrum is High Volume Manufacturing (HVM) (e.g. semiconductor manufacturing, children’s toys), where the use of traditional methods lowers costs. The break-point lies somewhere in between and will vary by the the part being produced and the volumes anticipated. A unit cost assessment that includes the cost of labor, materials, equipment depreciation, facilities, floor space, tooling and other costs can aid with this determination.
5. Developing New Applications
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of 3D printing is how people all around the world are using it for new applications that go beyond improving upon conventional manufacturing techniques. Dr. Anthony Atala’s 2011 TED talk involved the demonstration of an early stage technique of depositing human kidney cells that could someday aid with kidney transplants (see Figure 7). Rarely does a week go by with some new 3D printing application making the news: space construction, 3D surgical guides, customized medicine to name a few. The elegant and intuitive method of building something layer-by-layer lends itself wonderfully to the imagination. And the ability to test and iterate rapidly with a 3D printer by your side allows for accelerating innovation at a rate unlike any manufacturing process that has come before it.
As I mentioned in the introduction, if you or your company have challenges and needs in one or more of the 5 areas above, it is unlikely to be a question of whether 3D printing can be of benefit to you (it will), but one of how you should best invest in it for maximum return. Further, it is likely that you will accrue a combination of benefits (such as assembly consolidation and supply simplification) across a range of parts, making this technology an attractive long term investment. At PADT, we offer 3D printing both as a service and also sell most of the printers we use on a daily basis and are thus well positioned to help you make this assessment, so contact us!
How do you figure out when and why a product is failing? When the failure is due to repetitive operation the only practical way is to build a machine that operates the product over and over again. Designing, building, and running this type of device is one of the many services that PADT offers its customers.
The video below is an example of how PADT’s Medical Device team developed an automated text fixture for a customer that needed to understand the failure mechanisms of a biopsy device. The fixture was designed to operate the device, repeating field operations, and capture behavior over time with the goal of capture which components failed, the nature of each failure, and the nature of each failure.
The apparatus repeats four operations that constitute one operation of the device. Video is used with a counter to determine when a failure occurred and how. The project brought together test, controls, and mechanical design engineers. It also utilized PADT’s in-house 3D Printing and machining capability.
This is also a perfect example of how a customer can hand over an entire project that they need done, but don’t have the resources to do in-house. PADT’s team created the test specification, designed the hardware, conducted the tests, and delivered actionable information to the customer.
If you have a project you do not have the resources to complete in-house, consider having our engineers take a look at it to see how we can help.
The local SEMI chapter here in Arizona held a breakfast meeting on Monetizing Internet of Things (IoT) and PADT was pleased to be one of the presenters. Always a smart group, this was a chance to sit with people making the sensors, chips, and software that enable the IoT and dig deep in to where things are and where they need to be.
The event was hosted by one of our favorite customers, and neighbor right across the street, Freescale Semiconductor. Speakers included IoT experts from Freescale, Intel, Medtronics, ASU, and SEMICO Research.
Not surprisingly I talked about how Simulation can play a successful role in product development of IoT devices.
You can download a copy of the presentation here: PADT-SEMI-IOT-Simulation-1.pdf
You can also see more details on how people use Simulation for this application on the ANSYS, Inc. website here. We also like this video from ANSYS that shows some great applications and how ANSYS is used with them:
A couple of common themes resonated across the speakers:
- Price and size need to come down on the chips used in IoT (this was a semiconductor group, so this is a big part of their focus)
- Lowering power usage and increasing power density in batteries is a key driver
- The biggest issue in IoT is privacy and security. Keeping your data private and keeping people from hacking in to IoT devices.
- Another big problem is dealing with all the data collected by IoT devices. How to make it useful and how to store it all. One answer is reducing the data on the device, another is only keeping track of what changes.
- It is early, standards are needed but they are still forming.
If you look at this list, the first two problems are addressable with simulation:
PADT has a growing amount of experience with helping customers simulate and design IoT devices as well as the chips, sensors, and antenna that go in to IoT devices. To learn more, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480.813.4884.
Here at PADT we help people who make products, stuff that gets manufactured. So we focused our open house yesterday on advanced manufacturing and invited the community to come out and network, learn, and share. Even though it was a busy week for technology events in Arizona, we had a great turnout on a surprisingly cloudy Wednesday evening.
October is Manufacturing month and this open house was part of the Arizona Commerce Authority’s coordinated events to highlight manufacturing in Arizona. You can learn more about other events in the state here.
This event was a bit more casual and less structured then past PADT open houses, letting attendees spend more time one-on-one with various experts and dig deep in to technologies like metal 3D Printing, urethane casting, topological optimization, and scanning.
What struck all of us here was the keen interest in and knowledge about the various tools we were showing across a wide range of attendees. From students with home built 3D Printers to managers from local aerospace companies that are on the forefront of Additive Manufacturing, the questions that were asks and comments that were made with insightful and show a transition of this technology from hype to real world application.
Below are some more quick snapshot taken during the event.
A big thanks to everyone who made it out and we hope to see more of you next time. If you have any questions about the application of advanced manufacturing technologies to your products, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com or 480.813.4884. As always, visit www.PADTINC.com to learn more.
This Thursday PADT was asked to help participate in a lunch and learn entitled “The Startup Lifecycle.” The event was a joint presentation of the Arizona Technology Council and the Maricopa Corporate College and it was held at CEI’s fantastic facilities. Given our background, we were asked to talk about Product Development, and specifically on Minimum Viable Products and Lean Manufacturing Principles.
You can download my presentation here, or read on to learn more about the event.
There were four presenters. Hart Schafer the Founder & CEO of TheraSpace and an experienced Adobe guy, among other things, kicked things off with a great discussion on customer validation and discovery. He pointed out the common mistakes in thinking you know your customers and finding out you were wrong to late. Some great examples were given and he shared some practical ways to really find the Problem-Solution fit.
Next was yours truly, talking about those uncomfortable bits in the middle, where you need to actually design your product, then make it. I covered the concept of a Minimum Viable Product and how to use product development to come up with one. We also touched on how lean product development can be applied in a startup environment.
Then I dived into lean manufacturing, which is a topic worthy of several Lunch and Learns on its own. The bottom line was that Startups can effectively apply lean manufacturing to get a better product to market faster, and on budget. I included some examples and advice on how to implement it.
As mentioned above, you can download my presentation here.
This is a picture of me gesturing widely as I explained how a simple cake doughnut is a Minimum Viable Product and one with frosting and sprinkles was not. All the time hearing Homer Simpson saying “doooonuts” in my head.
NExt up was Nate Curran, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at CEI. He went in to how to commercialize a product. Another huge topic, but he boiled it down to some basics on commercialization, marketing, and sales. The last speaker was Russ Yelton, the CEO of Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, a successful startup that was a client at CEI. After we talked about what you should do, he shared the real world and how to scale and grow. The big takeaway from his talk for me was the importance of people and culture when you scale and grow.
After a great Q&A session, we posed for a picture:
As always with events at CEI, the venue was great. And, also as always with AZ Tech Council events, the audience was smart, engaged, and full of their own ideas worth sharing. Yet another indication of the growing and improving startup ecosystem in Arizona.