Nerdtoberfest 2021: A Parking Lot Full of Hot Dogs, Electric Cars, 3D Printers, and More

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What a great way to spend an afternoon. Last week PADT opened its doors… strike that… opened its parking lot for our annual Nerdtoberfest. Our last open house was in 2019 to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Then COVID-19 came and changed everything. Seeing so many people, around 300, in person after so long and sometimes for the first time, is what made this year’s Nerdtoberfest so special.

What is Nerdtoberfest?

PADT has had open houses since our early days in the 1990’s, usually scheduled around an anniversary or a new location. Then, in 2016, we wanted to be part of Manufacturing Month, so we scheduled an open house in October. And not wanting to miss an opportunity to kill multiple birds with one stone we decided to give it an Octoberfest theme. And Nerdtoberfest was born.

It is a celebration of PADT’s customers, partners, and employees and an opportunity for everyone in our little world to gather to learn a little about what we do here at PADT, explore what our customers and partners do, and socialize. Oh, and there is free food and beer as well.

Lots to See and Do

This year we only had our 3D Printing Demo open inside and moved everything else outside. Besides the wonderful food from AZ Barbeque Catering, and drink, we featured:

Stratasys Experience Tour

To help spread the word and make it easier for people to see the latest Additive Manufacturing technology from Stratasys, they built a trailer and packed it full of the latest machines and parts. On top of that, experts on the technology are inside to answer questions. And for over a year now, they have been crisscrossing the US and parking in lots in front of customers, breweries, museums, and a wide variety of other places, all while enforcing strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

The favorite seemed to be the new Stratasys Origin One machine because it adds some new capabilities to the Stratasys line.

ZEV All-Electric Delivery Van

One of PADT’s customers, and an active participant in the Ansys Startup Program, is ZEV. They are an Arizona-based electric battery and vehicle company that is bringing a practical and creative approach to electrification. They brought one of their Mercedes Spring retrofits for people to actually poke and prod. This retrofit takes the internal combustion motor and A/C compressor out and replaces them with batteries, a controller, an electric compressor, and a drive motor. All in the engine compartment. It is a great example of fantastic engineering.

ASU Luminosity Labs

One of the more popular stops was a display from ASU’s Luminosity Lab, an interdisciplinary R&D lab staffed by a group of the most capable ASU students. They work on a wide variety of projects for professors and companies, applying a wide range of skills and tools to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. They were featuring the VELOS project, a sensor for exploring parts of the moon that are in permanent shadow.

#HandsOnMetrology Scanning of a Classic’ish Car

We wanted a way let people see how the optical scanning solutions from ZEISS and GOM worked, so we brought an employee’s 2002 Saab convertible in and scanned it right there in the parking lot with an optical scanner. It was a great practical example of the type of reverse engineering you can do with this technology. In fact, it was the same scanner and software that PADT used to scan the engine compartment on the Mercedes Sprinter for ZEV.

PADT’s 3D Printing Services

For a little fun, our 3D Printing Services team built a golf game. Those who could put straight enough got one of several cool parts that PADT made on our new Stratasys H350 SAF Printer. It was harder than it looked but we did give away most of the parts.

The Demo Room

One part of the company that got really lonely during the Pandemic was our Demo Room. It usually saw three or four customer groups a week, and to be honest, was getting a little dusty. So we cleaned it up and opened the double doors to get some good air movement and let people in to see what is new and explore the wide variety of parts that we can make on Stratasys and EOS machines.

New PADT Website Preview

Yes, we are finally updating our website. We know, the current one is old enough to almost have a retro feel to it. We are working with Founder’s Workshop to reimagine how we can share information with everyone and we are just short of the MVP stage, so we wanted to show it off.

Positive Energy was Everywhere

People used different phrases to describe it, but the most common comment I heard was the overwhelmingly positive energy everywhere. Maybe it was the joy of eating a well-cooked hotdog, or seeing 3D laser scanning in action, being able to quiz and expert on the latest 3D Printing technology or just realizing that the person you have been talking to on Zoom for 18 months actually has legs. There were a lot of smiles

Here is a gallery of some of the images we captured:

Join us Next Time

If you didn’t know about this event or want to make sure you block it off on your calendar, make sure you subscribe to PADT’s monthly newsletter. This was a customer, partner, and employee appreciation event, and we really do appreciate all of you.

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