Seminar Info: Designing and Simulating Products for 3D Printing

Note: We have scheduled an encore Lunch & Learn and companion Webinar for March 23, 2015.  Please register here to attend in person at CEI in Phoenix or here to attend via the web.

ds43dp-1People are interested in how to better do design and simulation for products they manufacture using 3D Printing.  When the AZ Tech council let us know they had a cancelation for their monthly manufacturing Lunch and Learn, we figured why not do something on this topic, a few people might show up. We had over 105 people register, so we had to close registration. In the end around 95 total people made it to the seminar, which is more than expected so we had to add chairs. Who would have thought that many people would come for such a nerdy topic?.

For an hour and fifteen minutes they sat and listned to us talk about the ins and outs of using this growing technology to make end use parts.  Here is a copy of the PowerPoint as a PDF.

We did add one bullet item in the design suggestions area based on a question. Someone pointed out that the machine instructions, what the AM machine uses to make the parts, should be a controlled document. They are exactly right and that is a very important process that needs to be put in place to get traceability and repeatability.  

Here are some useful links:

As always, do not hesitate to contact us for more information or with any questions.

If you missed this presentation, don't worry, we are looking to schedule a live/web version of this talk with some enhancements sometime in March.  Watch the usual channels for time, place, and registration information. We will also be publishing detailed blog posts on many of the topics covered today, diving deeper into areas of interest.

Thank you to the AZ Tech Council, ASU SkySong, and everyone that attended for making this our best attended non-web seminar ever.

Design and Simulation for 3D Printing Full House

3D Printing to Combat Deflategate

3d-printed-footballIn honor of the big game this weekend the folks at Stratasys scored big time with a 3D printed footballStratasys has had a history of using 3D printing to improve on a variety of sports; however this time they out did themselves by possibly solving the infamous issue of deflategate. Since the Ideal Gas Law doesn't exactly explain it, maybe 3D printing could help prevent it from interfering in the big game until an answer is found. I’m not sure the NFL will be too keen on using these balls but it’s a thought

super-bowl-3d-printed-football

The football was created on the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-Material 3D Production System and was printed in three materials.  VeroMagenta and VeroYellow was used for the bulk of the design however they were also able to replicate the true texture and feel of a real football using the rubber-like TangoPlus material and all in one print job.  It is heavier than a game ball but can still be tossed around.  Of course they wouldn’t print a football and not test it.  Check out their video below. 

Bonus Link – Here is a fun Brady Deflategate Inaction Figure from Shapeways. 

PADT Opens Utah Office

PADT-UtahIt is now official: PADT has an office in the Salt Lake City area, second after the class A office space in Austin, TX.  Last week we signed a lease for a space at 5282 S Commerce Dr in Murray, Utah.  We have been looking for a while and when this location opened up we felt it was located in a great spot and was the size we needed.  It is 17 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, less than 30 minutes to most of our SLC customers, and not a bad drive to those who are north and south, right up or down I-15.

This office will focus on providing sales and technical support to our Utah Stratasys and ANSYS customers.  It will provide enough space for a few demo 3D Printers and also has a great meeting room for training and mentoring sessions.

You can read more in the official press release here.  

To get a feel for where it is located, here is a screen grab.

        PADT-Utah-Office-Map

Proximity to some of the best skiing in the country was not much of a factor in the decision process… but it helped.

Here is a shot of Anthony, Doug, Patrick, and Mario modeling in the hallway. 

PADT-Utah-Team-Halway

It will take us a month or so to get everything up and running, but once done we will set up a time for an open house. Watch this space for more about our continued growth and success in Utah.

3D Printed Quill Pen for GISHWHES 2014 Scavenger Hunt

quill-pen-2Sometimes you get strange messages on Facebook.  This weekend I heard a beep and checked my phone “Can you 3D Print a Quill Pen?”  Most messages involve asking me why I posted something stupid or annoying, so this one caught my attention.  Turns out my friend Chelsea is taking part in the 2014 “GREATEST INTERNATIONAL SCAVENGER HUNT THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN” or GISHWHES.  One of the items in the scavenger hunt is to print out an ink quill pen on a 3D Printer and write “We need to buy more Toner” on a sheet of paper with the pen.  

I can’t resist a challenge like that, so I told her no problem.  And it worked like a charm. 

The process we used was very straightforward:

First I went into a CAD program, SolidEdge in this case, and build a solid model of a quill pen.  Not being quill pen designer I found some web sites on how to cut a pen tip from a real feather, and tried to mimic the resulting geometry:

Quill-Cad-Model Pen-Tip-Quill-Pen
We then wrote an STL file out and sent that to our RP team.  They read that into our preparation software and separated the feathers from the stem, designating a rubber like material for the feather area for artistic purposes, and a hard white plastic for the stem and the tip.

That file was then sent to our Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 and printed in about 30 minutes.  

This video shows the printing process:

Once it was done, we just needed to wash out the support material and it was ready to go.

The moment of truth was then here.  Our intreped Scavenger Hunter took out her handy-dandy pot of India Ink and dipped the quill in, the she wrote out the requested message:
quill-pen-2

I worked like a charm, our handwriting was the biggest issue.

Wanting to see if it enhanced my artistic skills, I used it to sketch the following masterpiece:
quill-pen-face

This is why I use CAD systems.

Here is an image of the final part. The tip is stained black from the ink.
quill-pen-4

All and all a fun project, and I guess the team gets 80 points for doing this task, so we were glad to help.

You can learn more about 3D Printing by visiting here. Our contact us for more information on 3D Printing, Simulation, or Rapid Prototyping.

3D Color Printing the 2014 Arizona SciTech Festival Awards

photo 2The best way to promote and celebrate science and technology is with science and technology.  And this year PADT was able to do just that by using 3D Color Printing to make the recognition awards for the 2014 sponsors of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

The Arizona SciTech Festival is a new but growing player in the Arizona STEM landscape.  After three short years it has become the preferred way for science and technology companies and educators to engage with the public.  This year’s festival, held in February and March, was a huge success.  And none of it would be possible without the support of sponsors. PADT was honored to once again the awards that are given to these sponsors in recognition of their contributions. 

In the past we mixed traditional manufacturing and 3D Printing to make the awards. But this year we were able to use our new Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 to make the bulk of this years awards, and our Stratasys FORTUS 400 to make the stands.  The resulting awards are better than we had hoped for. 

The Process

The way the color printer works is you have to create a separate STL file for each color you want to print. So I needed to take a 2D vector art file and convert it into a collection of 3D STL files that represent the part I want printed.

I started by taking an Adobe Illustrator file of the AZ SciTech Festival logo, cleaning it up, and exporting it as a *.DWG file.
azstf-award-illustrator
I then imported it into my CAD tool. I happen to use SolidEdge, but the process should work with any modern CAD tool. I had to clean up the lines a lot.  In a graphic art image you can have small gaps, little line segments, and even polygons that self intersect. But in CAD you have to clean that all up. Plus some features were just too small to see in the 3D Printed object, so I simplified those. This was the most difficult part of the process.
azstf-award-solidedge-sketch

Once everything is clean you simply go through and extrude each polygon that you want printed, using the cleaned up sketch as your geometry.  Here is the first solid, and the simplest, the tail:
azstf-award-solidedge-extrude1

Once all the polygons are extruded, I assigned colors so I could visualize what the final part would look like. I also put a round on all the top edges, knowing from experience that even putting a small round on a part like this will increase the final parts attractiveness.
azstf-award-solidedge-extruded

The base needed to be a separate solid, because I needed it to be a different color. So I just made a new part for that and made an assembly. This keeps all of the solids separate. The letters were made just like the lizard logo, I went in to Adobe Illustrator and created the text outline, following the circle that defines the award. I exported that as DWG, imported it into SolidEdge, then extruded each letter.  
azstf-award-solidedge-medalian

The next step was to export the assembly as an STL file.  This file contained all the solids.  This was read in to the software that comes with the Objet500 Connex3. The operator then had to click on each object and assign a color from the chosen pallet.  It turns out that the official ScitTech Festival colors match one of the pallets closely, so we were able to get all the colors in the print. 

Once this was done, we simply printed 28 at a 3″ diameter, and 9 at 2″. Here is a video showing the printing process.

The resolution and brightness of the colors was very nice. Here are some images. Color parts just look better.
p7

For the base, I just came up with something that was thin and easy to build in using FDM because I wanted a strong part that was inexpensive that would also take a decal with the recipients name on the front, and information about the award on the back.  
azstf-award-solidedge-base

Here is a stack of the printed bases.
photo 1

And the final awards, ready to go to all those sponsors.
p12

Why Does it Matter

This effort is great example of the power of 3D Printing to a create a smaller number of custom objects. Standard awards form an awards shop are cheaper, but they are generic.  Using traditional methods to make custom awards is expensive and often labor intensive.  By making the whole award using a 3D Printer we were able to reduce the cost and the time for these unique objects, and were able to use advanced technology to highlight the sponsorship of an event that celebrates just that.  Kind of cool.

It is also a great example of the long term power of 3D Printing.  As was covered in a recent blog post, the real power of this technology is that it lets people without manufacturing or craftsman skills to create real objects, without a collection of equipment they don’t need or don’t know how to use. The applications of this power are endless. 

If you want to learn more about how you can do your own 3D Printing or how PADT can provide it to you as a service, contact us today.

A look inside the Objet500 Connex3 Multi-material 3D printer

This week our we printed some beautiful multi-colored sponsor awards for the 2014 Arizona SciTech Festival which officially launches in August.  Intern extraordinaire, Diserae Saunders, placed a GoPro inside our Objet500 Connex3 to record the magic.  Enjoy the video and check out the Arizona SciTech Festival for information on this great program that promotes science, technology and innovation in Arizona!

An inside look at our Connex500

We wanted to see what 3d printing looked like from the inside of the machine so our new intern, Diserae Sanders, placed a GoPro inside our Connex500 during a print job.  The item being printed is a demo bicycle pedal printed in multiple materials.  

This video is the first in a series we plan to do on 3D printing. If there is something you would like to see us do a video on, please post it in the comments below.

Stratasys adds flexible color to their digital material palettes

connex3_shorevaluepress_hand_horiz
Earlier this week, Stratasys announced the addition of 10 new color pallets expanding the digital materials offering to represent hundreds of new options of both flexible color materials and rigid gray materials available for the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer

connex3_flexpalette_cyt_hands_portrait  connex3_flexpalette_myt_hands_portrait  connex3_flexpalette_mct_hands_portrait

The first three pallets are built using TangoPlus combined with combinations of VeroCyan, VeroMagenta and VeroYellow. These new pallets allow for the printing of a range of colors and translucent tints in nine Shore A values (Shore A 27-95).

connex3_flexpalette_cyk_hands_portrait  connex3_flexpalette_mck_hands_portrait  connex3_flexpalette_myk_hands_portrait

Three additional pallets using TangoBlack Plus and combinations of VeroCyan, VeroMagenta and VeroYellow allow for users to blend a wide range of subtle vibrant-to-dark shades into the same part with TangoBlack Plus in seven Shore A values.

connex3_mkw_palette_portrait  connex3_ykw_palette_portrait  connex3_kwt_palette_portrait

The final four palettes that were introduced offer additional combinations of VeroWhite and VeroBlack with either VeroCyan, VeroMagenta or VeroYellow allowing for users to build sophisticated prototypes in a range of subtle grays alongside muted or vibrant color. 

connex3_blue_palette_landscape
The addition of these ten palettes combined with their existing palettes allow for virtually limitless combinations of flexible, rigid and translucent colors in one print job.

“The Objet500 Connex3 is the only 3D printer that combines colors with multi-material 3D printing. The ability to mix rigid, flexible, transparent and opaque colors offers users unprecedented versatility to design and perfect products faster,” says Stratasys Director of Materials & Applications Fred Fischer. “By extending the range of material options available, users can improve workflow speeds and enhance efficiency.”

These new options are available immediately to Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer owners through a free software update. 

Check out this great video on the new materials.

Usable Color 3D Printed Parts Now Available with Stratasys Objet500 Connex3

We have been waiting for this day for a long time.  There have been 3D Printers out there that do multiple colors, but let’s be frank, the parts were not very strong.  Nice to look at, but not much else.

This weekend Stratasys announced the Objet500 Connex3 machine.  Based on the proven Object500 Connex this multi-material platform allows the user to use three materials, giving you a choice of 46 colors for each build.  That includes transparent material with color tinting!  You can also still mix rubber and ABS like materials.

Objet 500 machine with man and multi material 3D printed shoes

We will have more to report on this in the coming weeks, but we just wanted to get the word out: Usable Color Prototyping is here and it is bright.

If you have an immediate need, or just want to learn more, contact PADT at 480.813.4884 or shoot an email to sales@padtinc.com.

Blue glasses with tinted lenses and black rubber parts Untitled-1

PADT’s team was able to see parts made on the new device at a recent Stratasys gathering. Then they had to keep their mouths shut for two weeks.  That was hard. These parts are high-quality prototypes like you would expect from the Objet technology. But now in color.  Bright brilliant color on strong parts.  This is what many of us have been waiting for.

Here are some links to get your appetite whetted:

(Yes to our ANSYS readers. We are working on a way to get this to print results)

Four PADT Customers Named Finalists for MD+DI’s 2013 Medical Device Manufacturer of the Year

Orthosensor Medical DeviceLast week we found out that PADT’s long time co-located customer, Orthosensor, was named as a finalists in MD+DI’s 2013 Medical Device Manufacturer of the Year competition.  PADT has been working very closely with Orthosensor for many years with them actually putting a team inside PADT’s offices. We know they deserve recognition for the advances they have made. Congratulations!  This recognition not only underscores the technical and clinical successes of Orthosensor, it also highlights that commercial success they have had in partnering with industry leading orthopedic firms.

You can learn more about what PADT has done with Orthosensor by reading this case study.

The competition is pretty significant in the medical device industry and finalists and winners are chosen by the editing staff:

Each year, MD+DI recognizes one or more medical device companies that have risen above the crowd to advance medical device manufacturing. In looking at the field this year, we realized that the firms influencing the medical device business the most come from both within and outside the industry.

Some of our 10 finalists for the 2013 Medical Device Manufacturer of the Year are traditional device companies making waves with novel products and innovative business strategies; others are outsiders that are pushing boundaries by changing the definition of medical device manufacturing. We believe all of them are helping to evolve the industry.

– http://www.mddionline.com/article/2013-medical-device-manufacturer-year-finalists

There is a reader’s poll.  (Hint) We encourage everyone to take a look at the finalistsand voice their opinion (hint, hint) on who should get the award. And if they vote for Orthosensor, they will know they voted for a quality firm that has a close and long relationship with PADT. (Hint, hint, hint)

But wait, there is more! While getting the link for the Orthosensor mention, we were even more pleased to see first one, then two, then three other PADT customers listed. 40% of this years finalists are PADT customers.  That is something we are very proud of because it shows that we are working with customers that are really making a difference in peoples health:

  • Medtronic has been a long time prototyping and simulation services customer of PADT and we know that their wide array of life saving products really make a difference.
  • When Roche Diagnostics purchased long time customer Ventana Medical Systems we knew it would lead to great things. Now their tissue diagnostic systems are evolving faster and a wider range of customers have access to this very important tool in the daily struggle to battle cancer.  They also have one of the most beautiful campus locations of any of our customers. And since all the work we do for them is confidential, a picture of the campus will have to do.
  • Stratasys-PADTStratasys.  Yes that Stratasys. The company that PADT not only sells for but that is also a customer. You didn’t know they were also a customer? Stratasys purchases and bundles PADT’s SCA cleaning system for their Fused Deposition Modeling systems.To see Stratasys listed in this competition is a big deal for us, having used their technology for years to help our medical device customers.  We love the recognition that Rapid Prototyping (even if we have to call it 3D Printing) is getting these days for the real and substantial contribution it is making across industries.What is kind of cool in a rapid-prototyping-links-everything sort of way is that we have used Stratasys hardware to support all three of the device companies companies listed.

With four horses in this race we feel confident we will be congratulating one of them as this years winner!

PADT Expands Local 3D Printing, Support, and Simulation Services with New Albuquerque Office

Web-PADT-Front-Door-New-Mexico

We are very pleased to announce that PADT is opening new local office in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the Sandia Science and Technology Park. The office will focus on providing sales, technical support, 3D Printer maintenance, and a meeting space to better serve customers in New Mexico.

Some of PADT’s earliest customers came from the state of New Mexico, and the company provides products, support, and services to many organizations in the area, including all of the major universities, the National Labs, and dozens of commercial companies. The new office will allow the local team, and employees visiting from PADT’s Colorado or Arizona locations, the opportunity to work in a familiar location, have direct access to PADT’s infrastructure, and provide customers a location to view the 3D Printing, simulation, and product development technologies that PADT offers. The location at the Eubank entrance to Kirtland AFB and Sandia National Labs give direct access to the highest concentration of PADT customers in the state.

The sales team in the  PADT New Mexico office will focus on distributing three  products lines:  The first is the complete suite of simulation software from ANSYS, Inc. (ANSS) (www.ANSYS.com). These tools are used by companies around the world to simulate products before testing, resulting in better performance for less cost and in less time.  The second line of products are the 3D Printer and Direct Digital Manufacturing systems from Stratasys (SSYS) (www.STRATASYS.com).  Both ANSYS, Inc. and Stratasys are the world leaders in their respective markets, and PADT is proud to be one of their reselling partners for Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.  The third product line is PADT’s CUBE Systems, (www.padtinc.com/cube-hvpc) their own brand of High Value Performance Computers specifically designed and configured for the advanced simulation user.

Additionally, the office will serve as a place for PADT’s technical staff to work together at a single location, providing simulation consulting, training and technical support.  As the company grows, the area has sufficient expansion opportunities to allow for more employees and equipment.

You can read the official announcement on the press release:

Press_release

http://www.prlog.org/12158073.pdf

Here are some images of the new office:

PADT-New-Mexico-Building

The office is literally on the corner of Research and Innovation at:

PADT New Mexico
1451 Innovation Parkway
Suite 402
Albuquerque, NM  87123

2013-06-14 17.43.36

Still working on signage, but we used a large monitor to add a little touch to the entrance

Prarie_Dog_SSTP_Welcome(Note the little welcome creature in the lower right of the image)

The office is located at the Sandia Science and Technology Park on the east side of Albuquerque, just south of I-40 near the Eubank gate to Kirtland AFB and Sandia National Labs:

PADT-New-Mexico-Map

Six Things to Do when Shopping for a 3D Printer

Stratasy-Mojo-3D-Printer-in-Shopping-CartPADT has been in this prototyping business for a while, even before we called the machines that make physical parts directly from computer models a 3D Printer.  When we started it was rapid prototyping and we have purchased maybe a dozen machines for our own use, and sold several hundred to our customers.  As the cost of these systems comes down and the number of people interested in having their own 3D Printer goes up, we thought it would be a good time to share our experience with choosing systems with the community.

Here are six things that every person should do when they are shopping for a 3D printer. We even recommend that you write these down and fill out a form before you contact the first vendor.

Thing 1:  Understand What you will use your Parts For

This seems obvious. You would not be looking for a 3D printer unless you knew you needed one and you knew what you needed it for.  But in reality it is very easy to get caught up in how powerful and just plane cool this technology is and you start thinking about what you can do, and you forget what you need to do.  The best way to approach this is to not think about which technology you may end up with, that will point you in one direction or another. Just assume you push a button and a prototype of your part comes out. What would you actually use it for?

The key here is to be honest. If the reality is that your receptionist really likes models of Japanese Anime characters, and you plan on making models of such in an attempt to get her attention, then be honest about that. You need a printer with the detail and perhaps color capability for that. But if you really think about it you probably need one to make patterns for doing custom composite layups, so your use will be very different and the so will the system you need.  She probably will be just impressed with your layup tooling. Well, maybe not but your boss will.

image

Our experience tells us that customers often get hung up on features that they get excited about, but when you look at the end use of their prototypes, they really do not need some of those features.  We have seen people buy a machine because it was the only one that did this one thing they got fixated on. But in the end, they only make two prototypes that need it a year and the other 137 prototypes they make are kind of sucky.  Make a list of all the uses and put a guess next to them that shows the percentage of parts that fit into that use.  A typical example would be:

  • 35% Mockups for design reviews
  • 25% Models for the machine shop and vendors to help them plan machining
  • 15% Fixtures for testing
  • 10% Consumer testing and marketing mockups for ad campaigns
  • 10% Fit models to build
  •   5% Other

Thing 2: Benchmark the Machines on your Geometry

DinoFingersClose-TangoGrayHR

When we run into someone that is unhappy with their 3D Printer, three out of four timeswe find out that it just does not perform like they thought it would.  And if we dig deeper we find out that when they were shopping for a printer, they just looked at parts that the various vendors gave them. Demo parts. They never made a variety of their own typical parts.  This is especially true if they ended up buying a lower cost machine.

Here is a secret of every person selling a 3D Printer, that probably is no secret to you. They pick the demo parts they show you because those parts look really good on their technology. And if you are not closely familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each technology, there is no way for you to know that the parts they showed you may be the only parts that actually look good on that technology.

Untitled_00252

Get four or five parts that are typical parts that you would prototype, and have them made on each technology.  Even if the vendor tells you they can only afford to make one sample part for you (with the cost coming down the margins on these machines is low so few in the business can do a bunch of free parts for every potential sale),  go ahead and pay money to get your geometry made.  You may be shocked by the results, especially on some of the newer low cost machines.

Thing 3: Ignore Hype or the Herd

Any fast growing industry has a lot of hype, and a lot of mob pressure to go with one technology over another.  3D Printing is no different, and in fact it is worse because this technology is so cool and interesting.  The problem with hype and herd mentality is that the company with the best public relations people or with the “hippest” story gets all the attention regardless of the technology. And it feeds on itself. They get more attention because they got more attention.

A case in point is the recent introduction of a hand-held fused deposition modeling system.  Very cool, lots of hype and interest.  But really, who could use that for real work?  Even a hobbyist is going to struggle with making anything useful with a tool like that. But there is a lot of hype around it right now and a huge amount of interest. I’ve had a taxi driver mention it to me when he asked what I do.

It is human nature to want to be part of something big. So it is hard to push that aside and look at each 3D Printer you are evaluating on its own merit. Not what the press is saying, not what other people are touting, not what is the newest and flashiest.  We are talking basic “make me a useable part” here.  Look at it with basic and non-influenced eyes.

Thing 4: Calculate the Total, Long Term Cost

Of all the things listed here, this may be the hardest to do. There are so many costs that go into making prototypes. The initial cost of the machine is small compared to all the other costs. What we recommend you do is make a spreadsheet and list cost items in the first column, and create rows for each 3D Printer you are looking at, then fill it out. We like to put in the cost over three years.

Here are some cost items we recommend people include:

  • System
  • Cleaning system
  • Facility modification costs
  • Build and support material
  • Cleaning materials
  • Maintenance fees
  • Labor to prepare jobs
  • Labor to post process jobs
  • Facility square footage for machines, cleaning equipment, material storage, etc…
  • Scrap rate cost (some systems have a higher scrap rate, you need to include the cost of lost time and material because of that)

Thing 5: Honestly Prioritize the Features you Want and Need

It is always a good idea to make a “want” and “need” list, regardless of what you are purchasing.  When you are dealing with a set of technologies with so much buzz around it, we feel it is doubly important.  Sitting down and making a list, then justifying it to someone else clarifies what you should be looking for more than anything.

We also recommend that you prioritize the list.  Marking things as Want and Need is a first step, then every one of those should also be ranked in order of importance.  You can use a point scheme or you can just put them in order from most to least.  This will help you sort through the gee-whiz stuff and truly understand where the value of your investment in 3D Printing can be found.

Needless to say, it is critical that you finish Thing 1, and refer to it, when completing this step.

Thing 6: Figure Out what is Good Enough, then Ask for More

OK, maybe this one sounds like a sales pitch: “You know what you really want, but really, trust me, you need more.”  Experience tells us that this is actually true. When you are talking 3D Printing we run into customer after customer that felt the system they purchased was “good enough” for their needs then they realize it does not do what they need.  And in most cases it is because they really needed a bigger machine, or they needed a more robust material than they thought.

The last thing you want to do is invest in a 3D Printer then six months later try and turn it in to get one that is bigger, faster, more precise, or that runs a better material.   Now you are still paying for the more expensive system and you wasted money on the less expensive one.  Be honest, upgrade in the beginning to what you really need in the long run not what you think you can get by with in the short run. Because, in the end, you will save money and have better parts.

Doing the Six Things and Getting that 3D Printer

You know you want one. You actually probably need one. We have been doing this for a long time and almost every customer that has made an intelligent investment feels like the investment has been a positive one. And by intelligent investment, we do not want to imply that they bought a system from PADT (although statistically that may be true). What we have found is that these companies took their time, they used some variation of the steps listed above, and they treated their purchase as a long term investment.

You too can make a smart choice and make in-house 3D Printing part of your company, job, or even hobby.  PADT is here ready to help you with that choice.  We can show you the complete line of fused deposition and Polyjet 3D Printers from Stratasys. We can also provide some advice on what we think is a good fit for your needs, and help you capture data for the six things we have outlined here.  And don’t forget, we have a full 3D Printing services offering, with all the major systems and materials. So we can show you the advantages of all of them by providing you with your outsourced parts while you look for an in-house solution.

Stratasys Objet Polyjet Systems

PADT Adds Stratasys Polyjet 3D Printers from Objet to Product Offering

Stratasys-Objet1000-350w

PADT is proud to announce that we are officially certified to resell the full line of Stratasys products, including the newly added Polyjet 3D Printers from Objet.  We were very pleased when Objet and Stratasys decided to merge to become the new Stratasys, and we have been waiting patiently for the legal merger to take place, and then for the two organizations to merge their businesses.  Now that wait is over and PADT just completed our sales and support training for the Polyjet product line and we can offer it to customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Here is a family photo of the line:

Stratasys_polyjet_machines_portfolio-500wAs you can see, they start with small desktop systems and work their way up to the monster Objet1000, a true beast of a machine capable of printing parts up to 39 inches long!

Artistic 3D Printed Prototype in Rigid Blue Material
Objet1000_bicycle-lowDinosaur3Dprinted
GPS4-low
There are two key characteristics that really sets these systems apart: The variety of materials available and the precision of the parts they make.Because the Polyjet systems use ink-jet printer heads, they lay down small droplets of photocurable material.  So the resolution of each layer can be up to 600 dpi, and the layers themselves can be very thin, as thin as 16 microns.The same ink-jet technology also allows for the use of such a wide variety of material.  Over 100 different materials can be made by mixing two different materials during the build.  This allows materials the have the properties of ABS, Polypropylene, rubber, or transparent plastic.  And materials can vary on a given layer or from layer to layer.Another set of ink-jet heads allow for the deposition of a water soluble support material, that is easily washed away to make the post processing of parts made on a Polyjet machine simple and fast.

We cold go on and on about this technology, or you can see it for yourself. As we mentioned, this technology is not new to PADT, so we know a lot about it and are eager to share what we have learned over the years.  If you want to learn more, simply contact us and we will be ready to answer your questions, show you some machines, and help determine if Polyjet technology is the right fit for you.

You can also check out our new Polyjet product pages, where you can find brochures and videos that give a lot more information.

And look for more information on this blog as we share stories, tips, and hints on the use of these systems.

View the official press release here.

StratasysLogo

Retail 3D Printing at the Beginning of 2013

I just came across a posting from Terry Wohlers that he did in December with some interesting observations on the growth of 3D Printing in retail stores:

3D Printing at Retail Stores

I have to agree with Terry’s assessment that these efforts in Africa and Europe to bring this new technology to a mass market through old business models may not click.  Some of the efforts here in the US seem to be a better fit.  Reading the article, and the fact that non-technical people are constantly bringing up 3D Printing around me, got me to thinking about the retail space and where it is headed.

Is Online the Future for Retail 3D Printing?

Shapeways_websiteIn New York, the VC backed experiment at Shapeways seems like a more viable option for mass retail 3D printing.   There was an interesting interview done in December by the Business Insider that sheds some light on how things are going, but does not discuss the business aspect too much.  What I am interested in knowing is what type of margin Shapeways is making on their parts with the prices as low as they are, or are they using their buckets of VC money to build market share in hopes that volume will bring their margins up?  It would be interesting to know.

A French company called Sculpteo has a similar model. I’m sure there are others.

3D Systems, along with buying up as many technologies as they can, has launched their own retail competitor to Shapeways called Cubify.   Their advantage is that they do not have to pay full price for machines or materials.  It is early days and in some ways it looks like a vehicle for promoting their low-end FDM CUBE machines, but the reach of 3D Systems may make a difference.

The Brick and Mortar Store

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Although these online based models have the advantage of access to the masses to grow their markets, storefront retail outlets for 3D Printing also seem to be taking off.  Makerbot, the kings of getting media attention for low-end 3D printing, has a showcase store now in Manhattan. This store may be more for marketing than a direct revenue generator, but it starts a trend.   A new startup, 3DEA is also in New York City and they are trying to use similar low-end FDM technology to provide 3D printing to the masses through a corner store, literally.

Here at PADT we are aware of several companies starting the same thing in the west and they seem to have good solid business models that will not only go after the art/accessory/gadget market but they are also looking at other more practical retail applications.  We think this broader and more balanced approach has merit.

Is New York the Center of Retail 3D Printing?

Are you seeing a trend here? Retail 3D Printing in the US seems to be focused on New Your City. There is a store in Pasadena called Deezmaker, but it is more hacker-centric selling more kits than home machines or direct to consumer printed objects.

Is this NYC bias because the market for consumer 3D printing is huge there? Or is it the art community? Or is it a tech-infiriority complex with the west coast?  A “we missed all this computer based stuff, so we are going to lead on this 3D printing thing” effect?

I suspect it has more to do with the proximity to Wall Street and the mass media than anything else.  Which may or may not be good for the additive manufacturing business.  It means cash and exposure for something that really captures the imagination of the general public. But is this a bubble that will grow and pop for the full industry? Or will it just be the retail side?  Only time will tell.

FDM Rules, but not Necessarily Good FDM.

One other take away from this retail trend is the dominance of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology that is making much of this possible. Although Shapeways seems to use almost all of the technologies, most of the startups that are trying to get the cost down and the volume up are using some sort of low-cost FDM technology. This is reflected in the lower costs and in the poor finished part quality that is seen on most of the websites. It is too bad more are not looking at technology Stratasys, the originators of FDM and producers of machines that make very high-quality parts.

stratasys_mojoI bring this up not only because PADT is a long time Stratasys reseller, but because the poor part quality might result in a black eye for the industry as a whole.  And the concern is not just about aesthetics, but also about part strength.  There is a lot of excitement over making replacement parts for appliances, toys, and consumer electronics.  Delamination in low-cost FDM parts is a real concern.

I also wonder if the merger of Stratasys and Objet might allow for the development of low cost and reliable 3D Printing based on the Objet inkjet printing approach as a compliment to FDM based systems.

What is the Future?

rasputinAnyone that is in the RP business knows that the use of additive manufacturing for prototyping, tooling, and even production is growing and getting better. Machines are faster, more accurate, and offer much better material choices. And the cost of systems that make strong, high-quality parts is coming down. So the non-retail side of this market should see continued strong growth.

The retail side of things is seeing a lot of buzz, a lot of press, and a lot of interest from average consumers.  As with any new market it is hard to guess where it is going.  But history has shown us that something like this that shows the potential of being a disruptive technology will have a big impact, and the market will whipsaw back and forth a few times before the technology finds its place and becomes mainstream.

For the record, just to see how close I get, I predict the following landscape for retail 3D Printing in five to ten years:

  • Two or three large on-line outlets, focused on art, fashion, and accessories as an outlet for small designers.
  • One or two large business supply/service chains that offer 3D Printing alongside traditional printing and copying using high quality FDM technlogy
  • A variety of specialty local almost neighborhood stores that offer duplication using 3D scanning and printers along with part printing.

Hopefully someone will remind me of this post in the future and we can see how far off I am.

 

 

Stratasys and Objet Merger Complete

Stratasys

It is now official. Stratasys and Object have completed their merger to form a company worth over $3.0 Billion.  Actually, as we prepare this update it is up to $3.37B.  Obviously the markets thing this merger is a good thing.

And now Stratasys has a new logo and what we think is a great slogan: “For a 3D World”

You can read the press release here.

As a long time Stratasys distributor and a user of Objet’s and Stratasys systems in our rapid prototyping services business, we are very familiar with both product lines and look forward to the synergy of the merger.  These are two truly complimentary product lines.

Right now this merger will have no impact on how we do business with our existing customers for any of the product sales or services we offer, including sales of new systems, maintenance of existing machines, material ordering, or prototyping services with either FDM or PolyJet.  As the two companies combine organizationally we will keep everyone informed.

Learn more about the Stratasys line of Mojo, uPrint SE, Dimension, and FORTUS 3D Printers here.