RapidMade has expanded its manufacturing staff this summer.  Please join us in welcoming:

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Drew Christensen

All the way from the distant land of Wisconsin is our new Shop Technician, Drew Christensen. He's been a mold maker, fab tech, model maker, and everything in between. You can find Drew kayaking, fishing, or camping when he's not doing side woodworking projects. His ideal job would be what he's doing now, working with his hands. We're happy to have  Drew join the team.

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Max Poroj

Max Poroj, a specialist in CNC programming, machining, and manual programming, is our new Mill & Machining Operator. When he's not taking wrestling with his 5 kids, he loves to go camping with them to enjoy the outdoors. He's a big fan of dark science fiction, 3D modeling, and listening to audio books and podcasts in his free time. Welcome to RapidMade, Max!

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Cameron York 

Our newest 3D Print Tech, Cameron York, is an Oregon-native packaging manager and 3D modeler. He spends his off hours playing Frisbee golf, camping, and skateboarding. His dream job would be to own a 3D modeling studio. We're excited to see what you can create, Cameron!

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Ryan Colindres

Ryan was recently promoted to the position of Shop Supervisor. He grew up cage-free, Oregon-raised in Eugene and is an Industrial Designer. When he's not running the shop, he's creating, modeling, and designing; he craves adventures. You can find Ryan biking, swimming, hiking, and "camping, baby". Ryan hopes some day to be a serial entrepreneur. Congratulions, Ryan!

Growing up in Pittsburgh, if you weren't directly connected to the Steel industry, you complained about the rotten egg smell and pollution.  But when the industrial giants went silent in the 70s and 80s, the complaints shifted dramatically to the economic tragedy that was unfolding - the flight of life-long residents and well-paying jobs.   Rhetoric from the recent election aside, Pittsburgh's manufacturing base is both alive and well...

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) recently reported that in 2016 the manufacturing sector accounted for the most investment dollars ($6.1 billion), the most deals (50 companies expanding or relocating), and the most new and retained jobs (3,667).

But as we've continued to see, the type and number of jobs that have been created don't resemble those of the steel-era in any way.

“Manufacturing is the most active sector in southwestern Pennsylvania,” explains PRA President David Ruppersberger. “But as technology and automation continue to transform this legacy sector, the reality is that manufacturing facilities will be smaller-footprint, high-efficiency environments where fewer workers, with advanced skills including STEM proficiency, will produce more goods. This is a trend that won’t reverse at any time in the foreseeable future.”

Hearing of Pittsburgh's adoption of additive manufacturing and other advanced technologies is encouraging if the resulting economic turnaround benefits the greater community.

 

FASTER NYLON PARTS – A New Age for 3D Printing

A RAPIDMADE WHITE PAPER

By Mark Eaton

Getting parts on demand has been a manufacturer’s dream for many years. Since 2005, see M. Park, UNSW article, there have been cries from the 3D printing industry that additive technology would replace the need for injection mold tooling, that it would eliminate the need for machining, that casting would become obsolete. Finally, that dream is becoming a reality.

While there have been success stories such as the use of Stratasys Ultem for aerospace parts and selective laser sintering (SLS) nylon for automotive parts, until today, these components have all had restrictions on where and how they could be used. One of the biggest drivers for this has been the speed and the part cost.  Siemens, according to a recent article in Plastics Today, is using 3D printed fire, smoke and toxicity-compliant polymers to replace parts in trams, and they cite part availability as being the primary driver. The US Marines have recently experimented with printing replacement Humvee parts in the field. What all these examples have in common is they are limited in scope by the 3D printing technology restrictions. While the FDM process eliminates tooling, it is still 100x slower than injection molding or machining, and while SLS material prices have been reduced, they are still 10x more expensive than injection molding or nylon bar stock prices. So, the extent to which these older 3D processes can be deployed is still limited by cost and speed.

                                                                 Photo Credit: HP

                                                                 Photo Credit: HP

 

This is beginning to change. A new breed of additive manufacturers is arriving on the market who are focused on truly using 3D printing to create production parts at costs comparable to injection molding and machining prices. These “new age” additive manufacturing companies combine faster printing technology with engineering resources to convert and certify part performance. They have integrated quality systems to ensure material, process and part conformity. And they offer parts at competitive prices compared to injection molding or machining costs without the need for tooling, set-up costs or inventory carrying costs. An example of one company taking advantage of this new age in additive manufacturing is Daimler, cited in a recent Reuters report, who has announced it will start offering plastic replacement parts printed at local service centers from a library of 3D files.

Driver’s armrest is 3D-printed from FST-compliant thermoplastic resin.  Picture credit: PlasticsToday.com

Driver’s armrest is 3D-printed from FST-compliant thermoplastic resin.Picture credit: PlasticsToday.com

 

As an executive board member in the additive manufacturing community, I recently got to profile one such Portland-based 3D printing company, RapidMade. After 6 years developing prototyping, tooling and engineering services to support 3D printing, this company is reinventing itself to use the new breed of additive technology being offered by companies such as Hewlett Packard and Carbon 3D. These companies have developed much faster 3D printing technologies that use faster curing, less expensive materials with all the properties of traditional polymers. The new HP MJF is being showcased by RapidMade as part of its expansion in 2017. With speeds that are 10x faster than current SLS technology and material prices equivalent to injection molded nylon or machined bar stock, RapidMade can now offer its customers a wide range of new and replacement part solutions. Where precision tolerances are required, the company uses automated machining centers linked with the printers to provide finishing operations.

                                                                Photo Credit: HP

                                                                Photo Credit: HP

 

Without the need for tooling, customers can now order parts to print using their 3D library or one provided by the service provider. The shorter printing cycle times mean that it is no longer necessary to hold more than 1-2 days’ inventory for quick use parts, and less frequently used parts can be ordered as needed with zero inventory requirements. For very low order quantities (less than 10 parts), it has always generally been cheaper to 3D print versus using traditional manufacturing. With the lower cost breakeven point of these new age 3D printing technologies, minimum order quantities (MOQ) of 500 or 1,000 will be converted to printing versus injection molding or machining. For customers already using SLS technology, they will see an immediate cost and turnaround benefit from switching to this new breed of 3D printing technologies.

The benefit of these “new age” additive manufacturing companies like RapidMade is being immediately felt by the machinery manufacturers and end users of such equipment. There is a significant cost benefit in current supply chains, PWC Strategy& estimates there will be a 20% gain in TCO (total cost of ownership) from 3D printing replacement parts. It is estimated 70-80% of that can be delivered to the end users when they engage with a “new age” additive manufacturing company. Lower prices for spare and replacement parts are possible with piece of mind that the part has been certified for use. No longer are machinery manufacturers tied to traditional injection molders who retain tooling that cannot be easily moved. Parts produced offshore can now be re-shored without needing to recreate tooling. PWC Strategy& predicts German spare parts manufacturers will derive $3Bn in benefit from adopting 3D printing. Additive manufacturing by its nature is a non-labor intensive process, and the new breed of technologies produces 10x the number of parts in the same time lowering the overhead cost per part and making larger MOQ more attractive. Companies like RapidMade retain digital libraries and ship direct, on demand parts in quantities of 1 to 1,000 in less than 24 hours. They do this by not only having faster 3D printing technologies but also using automated transaction systems, integrated engineering and lean techniques to optimize printing uptime.

                                                                Photo Credit: PwC

                                                                Photo Credit: PwC

 

Whether it is Daimler, deciding to print plastic parts locally to save warehouse, shipping and logistics costs or Siemens citing the increased ability to service multiple customers with parts on demand, times are changing for the benefit of producers and end users. And to support the changing demands, these companies are turning to the ‘new age’ additive manufacturers who, in turn, are enabling US companies to re-shore production, improve turnaround time and lower part costs. If you have dismissed 3D printing in the past, it might be time to take another look.

RapidMade especially enjoys working on projects designed to improve the lives of others.  And we are thrilled when we get to see them "in action."  Recently SweetSense asked us to 3D print SLS parts that were used to produce remote sensors in Kenya that allow residents to better maintain water supplies and sanitary latrines.  

According to Taylor Sharpe, SweetSense is a "social enterprise" that is a spin-off of the Portland State SWEET Lab and partners with other agencies to provide high-tech solutions to problems faced by residents in developing countries.  

...in one case monitoring boreholes (deep water pumps that service 100s to 1000s of people) in Isiolo and Turkana counties in Kenya; and in the other case helping manage collection routines and operator issues of Sanergy Fresh Life latrines in the Mukuru informal settlements outside of Nairobi, Kenya.

For one of its initiatives, it has partnered with Sanergy to produce a

rugged enclosure that contains an occupancy sensor and am RFID reader, to respectively estimate the fill level of latrines before conversion to fertilizer and to give Fresh Life Operators a direct line of contact with Sanergy HQ in the case of emergencies.

In another, the Sat Spacer, SweetSense worked with Kenya RAPID...

RapidMade parts were used to allow SweetSense to provide satellite-based monitoring in areas with no cellular coverage.
Posted
AuthorRenee Eaton

3D Printing took another turn on the fashion run way.  The revolutionary technology was on display at the 2016 Met Gala "Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology." The gala showcased new clothing inspired by myriad technologies; among them, 3D printing was prominently featured. Additive Manufacturing, another term for 3D printing, is a fashion designer's choice to enhance and support the unique geometry of garments. There is a variety of applications though, from remote controlled clothing to printable fashion.

Posted
AuthorRenee Eaton