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3D Printing
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Steve9 Offline
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Post: #1
3D Printing
Looks like this will be a huge new industry :

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-3-...uge-2013-9

Will there be opportunities to self train as a well paid 3D printing consultant?

Anyone here with some experience/insight in this area?
09-27-2013 01:25 AM
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MasoMenos Offline
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Post: #2
RE: 3D Printing
I worked in this area for a large company over the summer (as an intern, I'm in my last year of undergrad mechanical engineering) so I could give you my two cents.

Additive manufacturing is probably the more accurate term to describe it, though "3D printing" is the buzz-word that got attached to it and kind of took off. The reason that the article says it will "creatively destroy how we do business" is that in designing and manufacturing products and parts, engineers and product developers have always viewed creation in a subtractive sense. Conventional methods (milling, turning, grinding, lathes, etc.) all remove material from a starting block. When you want to make a part, you get a block of steel or whatever and machine away sections to get your desired geometry. With additive manufacturing you build a part from the ground up in an entirely new sense. This absolutely (once the technology becomes feasible enough) changes how engineers design products, what things/shapes/geometries are physically possible to make, and how the entire product design and manufacturing process runs.

However, at this point (and I don't think for a long while) this technology won't be able to produce at a large scale. Its strengths are in small, very complex and delicately shaped parts which is why you see them talking about its applications in the medical and dental industry. The technology has lots of imperfections and weaknesses - you won't see this massive "creative destruction" for a long time.

For now, the biggest strength these machines have is in integrating them into your design process in order to lower the time it takes to get a new product out the door. You want to produce 1000 parts? Conventional methods will be cheaper and quicker. BUT if you want to create a quick prototype? Test out designs? Get a sample into a customer's hands? That is where this stuff is valuable. You can create quick complex geometries much more quickly and cheaply than you could conventionally.

So, as of right now, the opportunity is saving money and time by using this stuff for rapid prototyping, design, and testing. The parts that come out of these machines are not as strong or reliable as conventionally produced ones but there is still a lot of potential in this area. There's definitely a market for that - companies are always looking to improve their design process, make it quicker and cheaper. Integrated well, you can save a lot of $$$ for a company.

As for self-training? I don't know, the types of machines I'm talking about are pretty high capital, not the bullshit buy-one-for-home Makerbot for $2000. You would probably need to work within a company with these machines in place for a while to build enough expertise. Without a lot of experience, I don't know if you would be able to competitively consult for companies in this area.

But hey, if you put in some work and research, who's to say you couldn't?

My advice would be to not buy into the hype. It's up and coming, yes, but the reality of the 3D printing stuff right now is very different.

I'm no expert by any means, but feel free to ask any questions you may have.

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09-27-2013 02:49 AM
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void Offline
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Post: #3
RE: 3D Printing
Quote:So, as of right now, the opportunity is saving money and time by using this stuff for rapid prototyping, design, and testing. The parts that come out of these machines are not as strong or reliable as conventionally produced ones but there is still a lot of potential in this area. There's definitely a market for that - companies are always looking to improve their design process, make it quicker and cheaper. Integrated well, you can save a lot of $$$ for a company.
+1
My opinion is, that its only useful for rapid prototyping and low volume production. You could make money by running a 3d printing service, there are some already.
The inherent disadvantage is, that the part is built with 10000x weld lines affecting the mechanical stability and reliability. A injection molded plastic part at least in the near future, is more durable and faster in production (talking about time per part << 20 s). The mold for the injection molding is quite expensive 10k-1mio. €, depending on the features.

Brought to you by Carl's Jr.
(This post was last modified: 09-27-2013 06:35 AM by void.)
09-27-2013 06:09 AM
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Steve9 Offline
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Post: #4
RE: 3D Printing
Thanks MasoMenos for the informative reply.

One way to profit from 3D or Additive manufacturing is to invest in the publicly traded 3D companies.

The ones I'm looking at are ExOne and Stratasys listed on the Nasdaq and Arcam (http://www.arcam.com), a Swedish company whose 'printers' use a Election Beam Melting process, which is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm.

Arcam stock price is up over 800% in the last year (http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=ARCM....t;range=1y) so I will wait for a pullback before buying.
09-27-2013 05:28 PM
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WestIndianArchie Offline
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Post: #5
RE: 3D Printing
Right now the play is to buy a bunch of machines, and open a maker-space/school.

People come into learn "solid shape" or "auto cad" and then they print stuff out under an experts guidance.

If you've got access to something beyond a makerbot, like a Stratsys or something, then it's finding hobbyists and making them prototype parts. I gotta homeboy doing that in the Volkswagen fanatic space.

When I needed some parts made, I could find tons of designers, but I couldn't find anyone that would just print the damn design. So kids nice with 3d modeling couldn't afford to print something for me. (I just wanted it in plastic for a prototype I was working on)

So there's that angle too. You focus on the fledgling entrepreneurs who have ideas for physical products. You bring in the designer, and then you do the printing and charge em. I would have ponied up 500 bucks at the time, just to get the thing made. That would have been plenty to split between the kid with the printer and the kid who could design it. But I couldn't find that package on Shapeways.

But folks actually in the space don't seem to see it. They all want to be Business to Consumer mini-manufacturers, or Small business to Big business rapid-prototypers (and the huge fees).

There's a huge market for people trying to get their 4HWW on, but don't know how make the product. But nobody with the skill set sees it.

WIA
09-27-2013 05:54 PM
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Post: #6
RE: 3D Printing
09-28-2013 01:47 AM
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Ensam Offline
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Post: #7
RE: 3D Printing
Others have already laid out the basics. The two common methods are fused deposition modeling (FDM) and selective laser sintering (SLS). There's also photopolymerization techniques and some inkjet based technology but they're not as common. FDM machines build up parts by extruding thing layers of plastic on top of each other. SLS machines use a powder bed and fuse (sinter) the powder using a laser.

Machines based on FDM are generally less expensive and require less labor to run. The downside is the available plastics are limited to polymer grades which can be extruded well (primarily polylactide (PLA) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS)) and it's difficult to get good mechanical properties because of the limited fusion between the layers. These machines are sometimes called robotic hot melt glue guns - and that would be pretty accurate. More advanced versions allow you to lay down a support structure which can be dissolved away after manufacturing. This allows you to create parts with internal moving components and geometries that are not possible with other forms of manufacturing.

Machines based on SLS technology are more expensive but have much greater flexibility in terms of materials. They can process almost any type of thermoplastic (a plastic that can melt - like nylon) and can produce parts with similar or greater strength than standard molding. With the right laser you can also make parts out of ceramics (glass) and metal. One of the huge advantages of selective laser sintering is that the powder itself acts as a support material so you can create complex geometries without the need for a separate support material. The main disadvantage is that it requires significantly more material than FDM for the same component. You can recycle a lot of the left over powder but the losses are higher.

You can make a crude SLS device for <$1k http://andreasbastian.com/3dp/final_report_v2.pdf.

The gap in skills I see is a good understanding of the materials used in the process. Everybody knows how to use CAD and run a CNC machine. Not many people understand why some plastics work and others don't.
09-28-2013 02:04 PM
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outhustleu Offline
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Post: #8
RE: 3D Printing
Glad you posted this, I find this subject to be very interesting. I was thinking about opening up a retail space where people can come in and play around with 3d printers. Could be just lettting people experiement and play around themselves and rent time to do so, could be people who want to take an introductory class we give them a walkthrough and another thing, smalltime inventors who can't pay for real molds and stuff can have you make prototypes for them.

I have a buddy who's an IT guy at a local college and has access to these machiens. I brought this idea up to him as he's been telling me he wants to work with me on a business I have the business side of things he has the tech knowledge. His concern was this technology is changing so quickly whatever you buy will be obsolete quickly and may not even be the current technnolgy. Seems like 3D printing is so in it's infancy stage nobody knows which direction it will go. Kinda like with the whole blue ray vs HD DVD thing. You invest in one side and it becomes worthless because the industry goes another direction
11-05-2013 04:06 PM
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Steve9 Offline
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RE: 3D Printing
(11-05-2013 04:06 PM)outhustleu Wrote:  Glad you posted this, I find this subject to be very interesting. I was thinking about opening up a retail space where people can come in and play around with 3d printers. Could be just lettting people experiement and play around themselves and rent time to do so, could be people who want to take an introductory class we give them a walkthrough and another thing, smalltime inventors who can't pay for real molds and stuff can have you make prototypes for them.

Here is a good example of this :

http://www.3dprintingstudio.com.au/


"We are a few years away from a printed economy – an economy in which 3D printing will have a major role in manufacturing. Up to now, 3D printing has been most useful in creating prototypes. But from the automotive to the electronics and toy industries, 3D printers will increasingly produce critical parts and finished products. What are some industries 3D printing will disrupt? Here’s our list of seven." :

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ehrlichfu/20...ndustries/
(This post was last modified: 11-05-2013 05:13 PM by Steve9.)
11-05-2013 04:46 PM
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MasoMenos Offline
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Post: #10
RE: 3D Printing
Reviving this thread!

I thought about making this a part of the Engineers thread but it could be interesting for broader discussion.

I work in this industry, trying to apply 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing to a global manufacturing company. It is interesting work and has a lot of potential to make an impact in the global economy.

There is a hype cycle to new technologies - 3D printing has passed the blind optimism phase and has entered the actual impact phase in my opinion. So my question is - any insights in how to capitalize on this coming trend?

The big companies have been met with a lot of competition but the growth is coming. Anyone with any insights on where to invest? I work in this industry and I'm not even sure. The giants like Stratasys and 3D Systems are dealing with more and more competitors every day and their stocks have been less promising. The new Microsoft or Google is coming soon, what will it be??

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09-17-2017 06:01 PM
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kbell Offline
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Post: #11
RE: 3D Printing
How do you make money in this. I went to a meetup regarding this and it sounds like you just make resin toys that don't do much.
09-17-2017 06:12 PM
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MasoMenos Offline
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Post: #12
RE: 3D Printing
So there are two main ways -

A service company will buy a bunch of 3D Printing equipment and provide parts or tools for companies. This is mostly for prototyping, product testing, things like that and spread the word. Essentially they are making things that companies that haven't bought their own 3D printing tech would need who haven't made the investment yet to buy their own equipment. There are companies who are third parties that will sell you larger company's equipment that are more like resellers. They are buying the capital upfront and charging companies for what that capital can do. There may be opportunity setting up places like this, similar to a small town molding or machining shop that will do this manufacturing work for you so that you don't have to invest in the equipment or learn the expertise.

The second are the big giants making the best 3D printers, equipment, technology, that kind of thing. That is big time corporate business which is a different animal entirely.

My opinion is that there is an opportunity helping industry adopt all of this new stuff. There is value to by had by implementing this stuff (realistically speaking, not the "everything will be 3D printed" hype) so maybe consulting could be the way to go? Get some expertise and all of a sudden, companies that spend 20K prototyping new product lines might be able to do it for 5K. I think that's the big opportunity.

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09-17-2017 06:33 PM
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Stallion Offline
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Post: #13
RE: 3D Printing
Also consider that for tech companies (the ones most likely to need rapid prototyping) spending cash on their own 3D printer is a very trivial investment compared to most other tools they already own. Even high quality, industrial 3D printers are quite affordable (tens of thousands of USD/EUR).

So maybe small businesses and startups will have a need for external 3D services, but most established mid to big sized companies already own a 3D printer.

All of the companies I've worked for in the past 4 years had at least one 3D printer.

My current company has two of them available for any engineer who needs them, and we are only 100 engineers.
09-18-2017 10:34 AM
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H1N1 Offline
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Post: #14
RE: 3D Printing
Honestly the best way to make money in this that I have seen is to come up with innovations that make use of 3D printing. Medtech is an obvious example. I was part of a high tech pitching event earlier in summer, and the guys on before me, a couple of Cambridge grads, had an awesome business. They were taking scans, and 3D printing a 360 degree model based on a scan. They could then mimic blood flow etc through the organ, and identify where microscopic leaks or tears of anomalies might be that would be almost impossible to see on a scan. Really smart guys, with a really awesome product.
09-19-2017 04:20 AM
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worldwidetraveler Offline
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Post: #15
RE: 3D Printing
(09-19-2017 04:20 AM)H1N1 Wrote:  Honestly the best way to make money in this that I have seen is to come up with innovations that make use of 3D printing. Medtech is an obvious example. I was part of a high tech pitching event earlier in summer, and the guys on before me, a couple of Cambridge grads, had an awesome business. They were taking scans, and 3D printing a 360 degree model based on a scan. They could then mimic blood flow etc through the organ, and identify where microscopic leaks or tears of anomalies might be that would be almost impossible to see on a scan. Really smart guys, with a really awesome product.

I have a feeling virtual reality like Microsoft HoloLens will end up being widely used in applications like those guys are trying to solve.
09-19-2017 07:18 AM
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H1N1 Offline
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Post: #16
RE: 3D Printing
(09-19-2017 07:18 AM)worldwidetraveler Wrote:  
(09-19-2017 04:20 AM)H1N1 Wrote:  Honestly the best way to make money in this that I have seen is to come up with innovations that make use of 3D printing. Medtech is an obvious example. I was part of a high tech pitching event earlier in summer, and the guys on before me, a couple of Cambridge grads, had an awesome business. They were taking scans, and 3D printing a 360 degree model based on a scan. They could then mimic blood flow etc through the organ, and identify where microscopic leaks or tears of anomalies might be that would be almost impossible to see on a scan. Really smart guys, with a really awesome product.

I have a feeling virtual reality like Microsoft HoloLens will end up being widely used in applications like those guys are trying to solve.

Potentially, though I think there is something to be said for something that can be held, and touched, and rotated, and generally examined in the conventional way. VR has its uses, of course. However, I don't know about you, but I always like to pick up stuff I'm trying to understand or spot a defect in if I can. I like to be able to play with something - I don't know if VR will change that fact.
09-19-2017 09:08 AM
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