The Real Revolution in 3D Printing: It’s Normal

3D-printed-printerReading through my email this morning I saw an update from the “maker” site Instructables and I glanced at it quickly: “floating bed, how to make a sword, that’s cool, 3D printable printer, folding chair charcoal forge, what?, parachord hammer holder, just buy one, duh, blah, blah, blah how do people have time for this… wait, 3D printable printer?” CLICK.

So this 17 year old kid used his 3D Printer, an arduino board and parts he scrounged from old DVD drives to make a 3D Printer. Read about it here.  This kid, wootin24, designed and built an X, Y, Z positioning device that could be fited with a dremel tool to be a CNC machine, or an extruder to be a 3D Printer.  No CAD experience, no formal engineering training, just a smart person.  And the ad that popped up on the side of the how-to this kid wrote was for a Dremel 3D Printer, available at Home Depot. Not some kickstarter funded rehash of an opensource printer, Dremel. The big guys.  As I was feeling bad about how I spent my time when I was 17 (I’m not going to go there but I never did become a the backup bass player for Rush nor did I get a second date from T—–) and starting to worry about how systems from very capable companies like Dremel will impact our sales of Stratasys equipment, I realized that the true revolution in 3D printing happened and most of us involved day-to-day in the industry didn’t even notice.

3D Printing is Now Normal

When a revolutionary technology comes out there is a lot of hoopla and press. Tons of people start jumping on the bandwagon and your Aunt’s friend in Topeka is sending you links on Facebook about 3D Printing and how it is “going to change everything.”  Do not get me started on how 3D Printing is not new, we’ve been doing it at PADT for over 20 years, and certainly do not ask about the “3D printed gun.  The false-newness and fear-mongering stories are what the mainstream press picked up on. The good news is that the hype got the word out. And then smart people like this kid and the engineers at Dremel said “hmmm, that is useful. I can do something with this” and boom, the real revolution happened.

After all these years this tool that was really a special tool used when needed, has become just another screwdriver in the toolbox.  A standard part of the process it is something most engineers understand well, and a majority of non-engineers are aware of. When we first started showing people our SLA machine back in the 90’s they would either not understand what they were looking at or become flabergasted and amazed, treating it more like a magic box than a fairly simple additive curing system.  Now when we give tours we hear “that one looks like the one we have in our office” or “oh yea, an Objet, I’d love to trade my older system in for one of those.” And the dreaded “oh, we have three of these in our robotics lab at school, do you have anything interesting?”

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Amazon now has a section for all the 3D Printers they sell, just like headphones or video games you can play in your computer, although if you want to play different Casino games such as dadu online you can also go to different sites for this purpose.

So What

There is a lot of power in 3D Printing.  That is the real reason why the technology has blossomed as it has.  The power of 3D Printing is that it lets you make physical objects without special equipment or knowledge, the laser printer of manufacturing. However, as long as the tool is treated as something to be used in special cases or as a mystical new magic bullet, it will not be used correctly.  Now that it is mainstream, the use of additive manufacturing becomes mainstream and the power it brings to the table can be fully realized.  We see this every day at PADT. Product managers have “3D Printed Prototypes” as a standard line item in their budget templates.  Customers are increasingly talking about going back to their current product lines and identifying parts that are machined, injection molded, or cast and determining which can be replaced by 3D printed parts.  And most importantly, the supply chain and quality people are sniffing around and starting to make paperwork to control and manage 3D Printed components.

As proponents of the technology since the early days, we could not be happier than when we see a check box for “Created with additive manufacturing” on a quality form. When it becomes part of the bureaucracy, the revolution has truly happened. 

Coming Soon to CEI

PADT_StartUpLabs-1  cei_logo

Check out this great video from CEI about PADT’s new office in Phoenix.
Watch this space for more details as we get closer to launch.

Fantastic Night at the 2014 GCOI – Winners, Awards, and Fancy Attire

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PADT was on hand in force at the 2014 GCOI ceremony: (L to R) FORTUS 250mc, Andrew Miller, Ward Rand, Eric Miller, Mario Vargas, Renee Palacios, and Brad Palumbo

Every year in November the Arizona technology community gathers to celebrate innovation in the state.  The 2014 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) was a great event for the state and for PADT.  This years winners ranged from high school students to legislators to internationally recognized leaders in the software industry.  And, unlike most tech events in the state, everyone was dressed up all fancy.  The gala is put on by our friends at the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

This is a special event for PADT for a variety of reasons.  We have been a sponsor of the GCOI for several years, hauling out our equipment and samples for a booth to show off Mechanical Engineering in the state.  This year we were also honored to provided a judge to help choose the winners and we also made the trophies for those who won.  In addition, PADT was the winner of the 2011 Pioneering Award.  Every year we add more good memories to this event which puts an exclamation point on the year.

Congratulations to the Winners

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Pat Sullivan of ACTI! and Contatta Receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award

This years nominees was a great indication of the strength of technology companies and educators in the state.  As always, the students who received recognition were the most inspiring.  It is truly amazing what they have achieved while still in High School.

It was especially nice to see PADT customers Syncardia and Securaplane receive awards. Both companies are based in Tucson and are leading the way in their industries.  Syncardia produces the only FDA approved total artificial heart,  truly saving lives on a daily basis. Securaplane provides the aviation industry with a variety of security and power sub-systems.  

We were also pleased to see Pat Sullivan take home a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”  Pat started ACT! in the early days of personal computing, and many of us at PADT have been users of his software, and we still use it today at PADT. In addition, we are an investor in Pat’s new company, Contatta, through the Arizona Tech Investors.

This year the judges decided to add a special award, the Judges Award, for outstanding contributions to the technology community.  The first ever winner was the Society of Women Engineers.  This group is a big favorite of PADT because of their hard work to diversify the field and support many in school and in their careers.  

Check out the article in the Phoenix Business Journal to see a full list of winners.

3D Printed Awards

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Holding her very own “Governor’s Celebration of Innovation” Award.

Once again, PADT provided the awards  for the winners.  It is one thing to see people you know and admire win an award, it is even more meaningful when you see them holding an award that you designed and made.  Seeing Governor Brewer pose with her special award was kind of cool.  

In the past, we have used a combination of 3D Printing and traditional methods to make the awards, but this year we were able to produce everything using additive manufacturing technologies.

gcoi-2014-finished-1bThe top portion of the awards was created on our Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 polyjet machine. This device uses inkjet heads to deposit layers of photo-curable polymers.  It has four heads, allowing us to lay down support material, a base material, and two colors.  We used a transparent material for the base, and mixed yellow and magenta to get the different colors that “float” inside the transparent oval. 

The base was created on our FORTUS 400 fused gcoi-2014-finished-2deposition modeling machine using ABS plastic.  Both of the parts were generated in CAD and printed directly.  This application shows the power of 3D Printing. We were able to create 11 unique trophies without the need for tooling, special equipment, or expertise in any given process.  We simply visualized what we wanted on the computer, then sent the resulting custom designs to the printers. Specifically, the unique text for each award was extruded as a solid inside the main body, floating above the state of Arizona.

AZ Manufacturing Month Closing Party – People Mixing with Lasers, 3D Printers, Robots, and Beer

logo_revazLast Thursday (10/30/2014) PADT was honored to host the closing event for this years “Arizona Manufacturing Month”  The event was well attended with almost 300 people stopping for networking, food, beer, and some examples of the future of Manufacturing in the state.

The event was sponsored by:

A big draw for the evening was the “Future of Manufacturing” Exhibit where local firms showed off what they were doing. Exhibitors included:

Food was provided by Teakwoods Tavern and Grill (the barbecue beef went fast!) and samples of beer were provided by Arizona Manufacturer, Four Peaks Brewing. 

In addition to all of the companies and customers who attended, we were pleased to have a great group of High School Robotics teams that showed up to share their robots with us and take part in a brief awards ceremony for PADT’s “2014 FIRST Robotics Grant” competition. Read more about that here.

All and all a great event and our staff wants to thank everyone for making it an enjoyable and value added gathering.  We hope to see more of you here next year as momentum grows and more and more people learn about the Revolution in Manufacturing that is taking place in Arizona. 

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Here are some snapshots from the event:

Celebrate Arizona Manufacturing

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WE ARE CELEBRATING MANUFACTURING IN ARIZONA

The state of Arizona has a vibrant and robust manufacturing community, something that most people do not know. To highlight this strong part of the state’s economy, the month of October has been designated as Manufacturing Month. Learn more at the ACA website.

PADT has been busy participating in a variety of events throughout the month of October.  We are excited to celebrate the culmination of this amazing month.

Everyone is welcome!

What:  Celebrating Arizona Manufacturing – The Special Closing Event of the 2014 Arizona Manufacturer’s Month

When: October 30th, 4-7pm

Where: PADT – 7755 S. Research Drive, Tempe, AZ 85284

Please register at: bit.ly/MMclosing

Food and drinks will be provided. 

In addition to networking and celebrating, several companies involved in Manufacturing will be in attendance for an exhibit focused on the future of manufacturing.  

Exhibitors attending include:

…..and more

If you have questions about the event or are interested in exhibiting, please contact Kathryn Pesta at kathryn.pesta@padtinc.com

See 3D Printed Art, Visit MATERIALIZE

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We love art at PADT.  We especially love it when the tools we use, sell, and support for high-end engineering are used to create art. Last week we were able to participate in an event at the Shemer Art Center that did just that.  “MATERIALIZE: 3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping” is an exhibition that strives to educate artists and the public about new digital tools used to create art. The museum challenged artists to create original works using the capabilities of 3D printers.  PADT attended the opening on October 16th and showed off some of our own parts.

Here is a picture of PADT’s Mario Vargas explaining the technology behind 3D Printing to attendees:
mario-3d-printing-art

The artwork created varied greatly, but all showed the power of 3D Printing to take ideas visualized on a computer, and convert them directly to physical parts. We highly recommend that anyone interested in art or 3D Printing, attend the exhibit which closes on November 27th, 2014. 

Here is a very nice cow piece:

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And this is a collection of images from the website:
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If you make visit, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Join us in Colorado for a 3D printing Demo

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PADT Colorado is excited to be partnering again with Alignex for a 3D printer demo/happy hour at their upcoming networking event.  

The event is from 10 am to 6pm and will feature guest speakers discussing the latest in engineering and design productivity.  PADT will be on site to discuss 3D printing during their happy hour from 5 to 6pm. 

For more details and to register for the event please click here.

Congratulations to 2014 AZBioAwards Winners

BioAwards-2014-PADT- awards1 - CopyLast week, on September 17th, the Arizona Bio Technology community gathered for the 20144 AZBioAwards.  This year PADT was once again privileged to not only attend, but to again 3D Print the awards themselves.   PADT also had a both, which gave us an opportunity to talk with many of our customers who were attending.

This event honors some of the leaders in industry and is a chance for everyone involved to get together and celebrate all the progress that is made each year in this area.

PADT was also pleased to receive recognition for our 20th Anniversary from AZBIO.

You can view a press release about the whole AZBio Week, including the awards, here.

You can see pictures from the event on Facebook, here.

Here is a picture of the awards we made:

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And here is our both with Ward Rand, Josh Heaps, and Andrew Miller interacting with a customer:

BioAwards-2014-PADT- booth5

geoCUBE: Computers for Scanning

PADT just released a line of computer workstations  specifically designed for use with a variety of optical scanners: geoCUBE Scanning Workstations.

Scanning technology has come a long way.  It is relatively easy to scan a real physical part with a variety of different scanning technologies and capture the geometry for use in inspection, design, reverse engineering, or to directly replicate a part with 3D Printing.  The problem is that a good scanner produces a huge  number of data points and a standard office computer, laptop, or even most CAD workstations bog down and perhaps even crash when you try to view or manipulate that much data.  

geocube-hardware-picsWhen we ran into that exact problem here at PADT when we were doing scanning services for customers.  On a nice CAD workstation it was taking almost a whole day to clean up and process a full scan or a large part.  Our manufacturing team asked if they could power one of the CUBE Simulation Computers we use for CFD.  If you know CFD people you know they said “No, but can I also run on your box if you are not using it?”  So they went to our IT staff, the people who design CUBE systems and asked for a custom built machine for scanning.

The result was a breakthrough.  That 20 hour job was finishing in about two hours and we were able to spin the points and the resulting triangle file around on the screen in real time. We liked it so much we decided to come up with four systems spanning the needs of scanning users, and offer them along with the scanner we sell, or to anyone that might need one.

Below is a screen shot of the table showing the four systems, from a basic small box that you can use to drive your scanner, to the power system that we use.  You can download the brochure here, or visit the web page here

geoCUBE-Spec-Table-Screen-Shot

As always, feel free to contact us to get more information and see how we can help you find the right scanner and the perfect computer to go with it.

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.

Spreading the Word on 3D Printing at 3 Events in 3 States this Month

PADT-Logo-Stained-Glass-Rendering1PADT has been asked to share our expertise in 3D Printing at three different events in the month of September.  We look forward to the opportunity to talk about how additive manufacturing is being used today, and how it can be used in the future.  

September 11, 2014 – Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah Manufacturers Association Summit
We will have a booth and will be participating in the summit, representing the application of additive manufacturing. This informative all-day seminar will teach you about the revolutionary UtahCAN Database and how it can benefit your company, how to utilize social media to your advantage, better handle impacts on your business and leadership strategies to change your workplace.

September 12, 2014 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
TechFiestaABQ2014 TechRev: State of the art and Digital Fabrication
PADT’s very own Jeff Strain will be on the “State of the art and digital fabrication” panel from 9:00 to 10:00. TechRev is a full day conference featuring tracks for technologists, entrepreneurs and the business community produced by the NM Technology Council.

September 18, 2014 – Phoenix, Arizona
SAE Arizona Section September Meeting
PADT co-owner Eric Miller will be giving a presentation on Additive Manufacturing technologies.

We hope to see you at one of these events.  If you would would like PADT to participate as a speaker, panel member, or an exhibitor, please contact us and we will check our schedule. We truly do love talking about this stuff.
Look for even more chances to interact with PADT on 3D Printing in October, during the Arizona Manufacturing Month.

PADT Presents 3DPAZ Contest and FIRST Robotics Grant

3DPAZ
PADT has always been a proud supporter of STEM education in our community.  This summer we have been busy planning some new activities to help support local schools.  Today we are busy attending the Innovation Arizona Summit which is a joint collaborative of the Arizona SciTech Festival, the MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

 As part of our attendance, we will be promoting our first ever 3D printing contest, 3DPAZ  which will challenge high school students in Arizona with the task of creating or improving an existing engineering product.  We are very excited to be launching this contest and cannot wait to see what students come up with. Please visit our website for more information on how to take part in this contest by clicking here.

We are also very excited to be extending our support to the FIRST Robotics Competition by way of a new grant program for Arizona schools or organizations that are competing in the in the 2014/2015 FRC season.  If you are interested in either the 3DPAZ contest or the FRC Grant program, please email Kathryn Pesta at kathryn.pesta@padtinc.com.

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:
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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.
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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.

Talking About 3D Printing on Talk Radio

radio-microphone-on-the-airWith the increase of interest in 3D Printing from the general public, PADT has been asked to speak about the technology over several different forms of media. The local Phoenix TV stations were kind enough to come in and learn about the technology, including a great interview on the local PBS station.  We have been asked to give presentations to schools, inventor groups, and even a conference on traditional digital printing. Last week we crossed over into a new area for us, talk radio.

Don’t worry, this was not political talk radio… we are still waiting for Rush Limbaugh’s call.  A local financial station, Money Radio, wanted to talk about 3D Printing. Renee Palacios and your truly were interviewed by John Barnabas, host  for “Happiness, Opportunity and Technology.”

You can listen to the full broadcast here:

You can always learn more about 3D Printing on our Rapid Prototyping Page  or contact us.

If you need someone to talk about 3D Printing to your organization or if you are in the media and need recognized experts who can explain the technology, contact us and we would be happy to work with you.

Throwback Thursday: 3D Printing on “Good Morning America” in 1989

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Note: This post is not displaying correctly, here is a link to the video:
http://youtu.be/NpRDuJ5YgoQ

Take a look at this science segment that Jeff Strain found on Stereolithography from 1989.  If you ignore the hair styles (Joan Lunden rocked that helmet hair) the report isn’t that much different from news coverage that 3D Printing is getting today. But the technology has sure progressed.

To add some additional perspective, according to the 2014 Wohlers Report, 104 systems were sold in 1989. 94 SLA machines from 3D Systems and 10 systems from now defunct Japanese SLA providers. 

The same report estimates that for 2013 9,823 commercial systems were sold by over 33 different suppliers.  This does not include the personal printer (low cost desktop) systems, which was estimated at over 72,000 units!.  That is 9,345% growth over 24 years for commercial systems.. 66,702 systems have been tracked as old.  

Take a look at the video. It is truly fascinating how the message still resonates and how predictions for replacing traditional manufacturing were maybe a bit optimistic.  But even in the early days, this report captured the promise of the technology. 

It has been an incredible ride, and it is not over yet.