Talking Additive Manufacturing for Mass Production with ENGINEERING.com

Last month’s RAPID + TCT 2017 Conference was an exciting event for 3Diligent as we got to speak with so many industry publications about what we’re doing here at 3Diligent and what trends we’re seeing in the industry.

I’m pleased to share that this week ENGINEERING.com posted an interview with me entitled “VIDEO: Is Additive Manufacturing Evolving for Mass Production?” Here’s an excerpt of the post and a preview of what we discuss in the video interview:

Large production runs have long been the holy grail in the additive manufacturing industry, so how can we move this technology from prototyping and one-off applications into something capable of mass production? In the video above we speak with Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent, about how this change is coming about.

You can see the entire video here or if you don’t have time for the video, the editor has posted excerpts summarizing our discussion below the video.

We’re excited to share with you and the media about what we’re doing at 3Diligent – stay tuned for more exciting news soon!

Talking 3D Printing Trends with MCADCafé at RAPID + TCT 2017

Last month we attended the RAPID + TCT 2017 Conference in Pittsburgh. RAPID + TCT is North America’s preeminent event for discovery, innovation, and networking in 3D manufacturing and at our booth we displayed parts from a number of our rapid manufacturing technologies – including HP’s recently released Jet Fusion printer.

While at the show, we had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Rowe of MCADCafé, an online publication delivering the latest MCAD industry commentary, news, product reviews, articles, events and resources.

I spoke with Jeff about 3D Printing industry trends we’re seeing including an increase in metal and production applications and downward pressure on pricing, making additive manufacturing more accessible.

You can see the interview in its entirety here.

3Diligent Direct – Q&A

When 3Diligent started out, the idea was to provide customers seeking additive manufacturing services with a single platform to access a marketplace of qualified suppliers.  That worked out pretty nicely, but we came to find that many of the engineers and procurement agents we work with really valued our expertise in identifying solutions as much or more than simply having access to those solutions.

That’s how 3Diligent Direct was born, and today it is our primary service offering, complementing our Marketplace service.

With that in mind, we wanted to share a quick Q&A about 3Diligent Direct.  Whether you’re considering 3Diligent as a service provider or you’re already one of our customers weighing out whether your project is a better fit for 3Diligent Direct or 3Diligent Marketplace, here’s a bit more info.

What’s the quick and dirty explanation of 3Diligent Direct?

In a nutshell, 3Diligent Direct is our full service solution for professional and industrial grade rapid manufacturing.  When you click CREATE RFQ (request for quote), the first question we ask is whether you want to use our 3Diligent Direct or 3Diligent Marketplace service.  If you pick 3Diligent Direct, it opens up a number of options that aren’t available with 3Diligent Marketplace.

Okay, take it a step further.  When you say options, what are they?

Available machines, materials, finish requirements, specs and tolerances, confidentiality provisions, and project management support.

That’s quite a few differences.  Let’s start with machines and materials – which can I access through 3Diligent Direct?

With 3Diligent Direct, you have access to our full range of materials and machinery. This is a pretty big contrast to our 3Diligent Marketplace, which is just for basic prototyping using desktop extrusion 3D Printers in PLA or ABS plastic.

Submit a 3Diligent Direct RFQ and you have access to hundreds of machining, molding, and industrial 3D Printing technologies.  Part and parcel with that is access to hundreds of materials spanning the gamut of metal, plastic, resin, gypsum, ceramics and more.  Assume any machine you access through 3Diligent Direct would cost tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars to buy – the sorts of equipment that are going to give you a fundamentally better output than you can buy for a few hundred or thousand dollars.

What about finishes and achievable specs and tolerances?

When you submit an RFQ through 3Diligent Direct, you can specify surface finish, critical tolerances, and request additional assurances, like inclusion of an inspection report or material certifications.  You can also upload drawings in the Specs and Tolerances section of the RFQ, which isn’t an option in 3Diligent Marketplace.

How about confidentiality?  I don’t want my design files shared with the world.

That is actually one of the main reasons we created 3Diligent Direct.  While even in 3Diligent Marketplace files are transferred on our secure, encrypted site, and we limit the number of suppliers to the best handful of matching options, it became clear to us that certain customers and projects called for additional measures.

With 3Diligent Direct, you can check a box during the RFQ process to mark your project as confidential, which triggers a number of additional confidentiality protections baked into our 3Diligent Direct Customer Agreement (Section 2.1.2).  The confidentiality provisions are extremely strict, which allows us to enter into NDAs with our customers and still be able to legally leverage our supply partners on a “need to know” basis.  Additionally, we’ll work with you to identify the optimal way to engage our supply base when it comes to protecting sensitive IP.  That could mean talking through project considerations and ballpark estimates prior to sharing the project details with our supply partners.  For that matter, you can request that we work with one supply partner at a time when firming up fabrication arrangements to minimize the number of eyes who ever see your design.

How about project management?  

With 3Diligent Direct, we are actively involved in project management through the entire process of analyzing your RFQ, submitting a bid, overseeing production, performing QA, and ensuring timely delivery. Give us a ring at any time and we’re happy to discuss your project.

What is the turnaround time?

With 3Diligent Direct, we’ll typically have a bid back to you in approximately 24 hours – that allows us the time to engage with our supply base and assess how we can get you the best possible solution at the best price.  As our recent State of 3D Printing study proved out, pricing for rapid manufacturing services, especially 3D Printing, can vary significantly depending on many factors, so giving us a bit of time to gather a few options from our qualified supply network is well worth it.  With respect to the time for fabrication and shipment, that depends largely on the process and material selected.  With that being said, our network is so diverse and deep that we almost always have a machine available to run your project at a moment’s notice.

Sounds great – let’s talk about cost.

Signing up for an account with us is free.  Furthermore, it’s free to submit an RFQ – we’ll analyze your RFQ and identify optimal machine and cost matches in our supply network.  We’ll typically present a single bid to you that we believe is the best solution – although sometimes we’ll message across alternatives.  What you see is what you get when it comes to cost though.  We also break out the cost of shipping (we default to next day shipping) and taxes, which are adjustable based on customer circumstances (e.g., slower timeline for ground shipping, resale).

What if I’ve got questions you didn’t answer?

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  Give us a ring at 855-302-3339 x1 or shoot us an email at customersupport@3diligent.com. We’re more than happy to clarify anything about 3Diligent Direct or anything else that’s on your mind when it comes to rapid manufacturing!

A 3Diligent Case Study: How One Mechanical Engineer Uses 3Diligent to Cost Effectively Bring Biocompatible Metal 3D Printing to Orthopedic Surgeons

3D Printing is becoming an important tool in nearly every industry today, but one area where 3D Printing is really making an impact is in the medical field.

Doctors and surgeons can use 3D Printed organ or bone models to explain to patients or students the details of a surgery or to practice the surgery itself. Other surgeons are actually designing their own prototypes of new surgical tools or bone replacement options.

The challenge, historically, is that 3D Printing can be expensive and difficult to complete.

We’re pleased to share with you this case study of a 3Diligent customer, Industrial Creations, who works with orthopedic surgeons to create prototype designs to help develop surgical products that the surgeons can then try to bring to market.

3Diligent has allowed Industrial Creations to not only save time and money in the design phase, but to also keep the orthopedic surgeons’ ideas secure and to deliver a high-quality prototype promptly.

You can download and read the full case study here.

For more information on how 3Diligent can help you, visit http://www.3diligent.com/3diligent-rapid-manufacturing-services/.