In previous sections of this multi-part article on the founding of 3D Control Systems, we examined the startup years of the company, and the passion that drives 3D Control Systems Co-founders Dogru and Vedeshin to succeed. In this final chapter, we’ll dive deeper into the origins of these entrepreneurs.
John Dogru started as a hacker in a boarding school before receiving a full scholarship to study electrical design and software engineering at the College of Texas, Austin, which ranks among the best in the United States. During the dot-com boom, Dogru joined a startup called Austin Digital, which made aircraft data record retrieval systems. These automated aircraft data record retrieval systems allowed airlines to obtain information from aircrafts as soon as possible, reducing the latency from six months down to minutes. They helped the airlines adjust service intervals based on how hard the plane was flown; thus, accessing all flight data after every flight was critical. The platform worked with all major airlines, including FedEx, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and others. At Austin Digital, Dogru received his first taste of what it is like to program and build products and take them to market. That startup was later acquired by General Electric.
While still in school, John began working for Dell Computer as a lead engineer in automated manufacturing and developed an automated motherboard testing system. Motherboards used to be tested via integrated circuit testing (ICT), and the cost to test every motherboard with this technology required approximately $1 million per test station. Dogru developed an automated software testing platform able to retrieve the failure analysis data at a much lower cost. At Dell, his platform became the gold standard of how computers were tested.
During his time at Dell, Dogru learned about just-in-time manufacturing. At the time, Michael Dell, the Chairman and CEO of Dell Computer, was just realizing the power of just-in-time or “zero-time” manufacturing, having learned about it from his mentor, George Kozmetsky. At the time, Dell stated, “Zero Time provides valuable insight into the critical success factors of the digital age: total customer experience, velocity, and operational efficiency-all components of Dell’s direct model.”
“Technology continues to shrink the world. There is no choice other than to participate in the global community. Science and technology is too precious a resource to be restricted from drawing the world together. That is what the 21st Century is all about.” — George Kozmetsky
Dr. Kozmesky and Dell’s adoption of zero-time automation inspired Dogru to build products that served the customer at the point of need and time of need, with zero latency.
In his time at university, Dogru managed to gain valuable professional experience. He went from a startup that provided just-in-time data for aircrafts to an enterprise that manufactured just-in-time computers. At the time, Dell was the most advanced manufacturing company in the world. If someone requested a PC through Dell.com, the inventory of parts needed would only be purchased at the time of need. Thus, supplier trucks would be sitting outside of Dell’s manufacturing plants, depreciating by the day, by the minute, by the second, and Dell would only pay the price of the hard drive when the order was made and that truck opened its door to the manufacturing plant. The sales system was connected to the manufacturing plant, and in real time the assembly line would start to produce the computers for that specific order. The computer industry was innovating so quickly that building a computer and putting it on a shelf would leave it outdated within months. For that reason, it didn’t make sense to build a computer and mount it on a rack because hard drives were $200 one day, $190 the next, and then $100 not long after. With zero-time manufacturing, Dell was revolutionary.
There is an inflection point right before a technology experiences mass adoption. With 3D printing, the knowledge is here, the technology is here, and the tools are here, but the implementation to combine all of these disparate systems has been lagging. This is the opportunity that the 3D Control Systems team is focused on: to unlock the power of digital additive manufacturing for billions of people.
Following his time at Dell, and later as the lead engineer pioneering motherboard testing automation, Dogru worked as an internal auditor for the CFO to gain an understanding of corporate controls, IT security systems, disaster recovery, and financial systems, and helped work on large pre-project implementations such as the world’s largest NCR 44 node implementation.
Still, Dogru always wanted to launch his own company. Thus, he began learning how startups are established and researching how larger manufacturing operations build parts on demand.
At the time, the industry was constantly looking for new technologies and competitors, and Microsoft was manufacturing the Xbox. Dogru spent a long period working with Dell’s top executives and learning how an organization operates, including business controls, security, innovation, mitigating risk, and intellectual property control. In two years, he began leading a project called Symphony, Dell’s new state-of-the-art internal and external facing sales tool. This included spearheading the point-of-sale technology team at Dell, which is responsible for processing all orders from Dell.com and by phone. As the lead program manager, Dogru was in charge of 85 software developers and more than 120 project owners.
Following his time at Dell, Dogru launched his own startup, NuScribe. NuScribe was a medical voice recognition company before Siri existed. On average, 25 doctors would spend half a million dollars per year speaking into a tape recorder and then having someone transcribe it. Voice recognition on the Pentium 2 running on Windows was still quite slow. He sold that company for $9 million.
Thereafter, Dogru moved to Estonia, where he worked on numerous projects in online marketing and many intriguing technologies. He was semi-retired, yet always on the lookout for the next big thing.
To be continued…
This article is part of a series on how 3D Control Systems was founded. To read part 1, please click here.
In the previous part of this story, we highlighted our founders’ passion and commitment to bootstrapping the company, starting with agile universities rather than slow-moving enterprise clients. One reason for the company’s success, apart from the hard work and strategy, is that Dogru and Vedeshin both have excellent software and electrical engineering backgrounds. They have a unique point of view, and a combined total of 70 years experience in building software and hardware.
Both our founders came from the early personal computer hacking world, manufacturing PC’s at scale, building and selling companies. Prior to creating 3D Control Systems, John Dogru built and sold 2 tech companies. In the fast-moving 3D printing market where 3D Control Systems operates, many of our competitors’ founders are coming from the worlds of venture capital, sales, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering. For founders actually involved in the work of the company, it takes real computer and software know-how to connect disparate software and hardware systems, especially as fragmentation in the industry continues to grow. This core foundation of knowledge has been beneficial for Dogru and Vedeshin to crack the ‘missing link’ in 3D printing and develop 3D Control Systems. Historically and statistically, technical founders have created some of the most successful tech unicorn companies in the world, due to their ability to solve complex technology problems themselves.
Dogru and Vedeshin have been using computers since they were 4 and 10 years old, respectively. They have a wealth of knowledge in programming and designing technology platforms. They have been involved in the evolution of hardware and software which is embedded into the core DNA of the company.
John started off on computers before the age of 4. He grew up on campus as both of his parents were completing their PhDs in Petroleum engineering at the University of Texas Austin. His cousin had his PhD in Electrical Engineering, frequently stopping by Radioshack after picking him up at school to purchase parts to build robotics and gadgets, and helped him build his first CPM computer.
This was the period of the PC industry when each PC was sold with a different set of software. As a result, hardware manufacturers realized that they needed software to sell their hardware. That’s when companies like Microsoft came around and revolutionized the PC industry and information age.
Today, the same mega trend is happening in digital manufacturing. 3D printing manufacturers are building software to sell their 3D printers and are slowly realizing that by selling closed hardware/software systems, it drastically reduces their ability to scale and sell more hardware. Over 80% of the market is running on closed hardware, and many 3D printer OEMS are trying to force their customers to only use their products and services and commit to a brand ecosystem. Because this approach closes doors for the customer and limits their ability to fulfill their needs, the closed ecosystem approach may actually be hurting 3D printer OEMs.
That’s why companies such as Materialise and NetFabb were born: from solving the customer’s problem of managing different 3D printers in a factory. These players have developed leading software for this purpose, but they still try to lock their customers into their entire software stack. It’s a trend seen across manufacturing, even with massive industry players like Siemens. This desire to force customers to only use your entire software stack limits the ability for 3D printing to achieve mass adoption.
Imagine if Apple only let your Macbook use Apple-developed applications? Where would personal computers be today?
Probably something like this:
Unfortunately, most of 3D printing does look like this today. Not only does every 3D printer manufacturer still build their own proprietary software, they are also starting to become increasingly similar by acquiring and building the same hardware technologies as their competitors. Doesn’t this remind you of the computer industry 40 years ago?
Just imagine the Dell.com of the 3D printer market.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, a new 3D printer vendor can simply purchase stock hardware from China, put a sticker on it, and with a $100 license of 3DPrinterOS, go to market. Why spend the money to reinvent hardware and an OS everytime you want to sell a computer? Michael Dell simply put a sticker on a computer, purchased a license of windows, and sold it online. Seems like he did pretty okay, right?
The extremely high barrier to entry for a 3D Printing OEM is part of the reason why the market has not exploded. Stop spending money recreating the wheel. “The best artist copy ”, said Steve Jobs. To create something truly valuable in the 3D printer space, vendors need to focus on making it easy for the user to get value from their 3D printer experience. Reinvented, expensive hardware and a closed software stack don’t accomplish that. So what does?
Story about two individuals who are behind the achievement of 3D Control Systems are Mr. John Dogru and Mr. PhD. Anton Vedeshin
Eight years ago, John Dogru and Anton Vedeshin, PhD., founded 3D Control Systems. This is their story.
“All dreams can come true if someone has the courage and confidence to achieve them. Starting a business is always difficult. Specifically, a startup building something 8 years ahead of the market.” John Dogru
Eight years ago, most people thought we were crazy to build an OS for 3D Printing.
The usual reply was,
“Why do you need to network 3D printers?”
Even just 3 years ago, top 3D printer OEMs told us,
“I don’t understand, we only sell 1 printer at a time to a customer.”
“Why would anyone need to network farms of 3D printers?”
“We will build our own software.”
“We will wait for standards to appear.”
When we asked them, “Can you imagine a customer trying to manage 10 different 3D printer brands, with 10 different software tools, and trying to scale?”
Usually, they went blank. Then the answer was: “We will become the ‘Apple’ of 3D Printing.”
But even Apple allows compatibility with a variety of network protocols and allows anyone to write applications on it’s platform. Right?
In 2020, everything changed. 3D Printer Management became a real problem and pain point! In a post-COVID world, how do manufacturing enterprises do more with less people?
“For 8 years, we had been fighting for our customers to scale 3D printing by hacking the machines, attaching network capabilities, and making them work the way we knew they should.”
OEMs started to open up APIs and to acquire software companies to ensure their printers could be made easier to use, access, and manage on networks.
It all started with the top 50 universities in the world like MIT, Harvard, and Rice. Duke was one of the first pilot customers of the fledgling startup, 3DPrinterOS. Today, Duke has the world’s largest real-time university-based 3D printing network in the world, with over 7,000 students 3D printing on over 200 printers in real time, any time of the day, from anywhere. Another customer, Google, has over 30 locations worldwide running 3DPrinterOS. Even in a post-COVID world, anyone can print safely through the web browser, from the comfort of their home, any time of day, making their ideas a reality with one click.
As the company grew, a few lessons became clear. When pursuing a passion, give your all and stay fully devoted. When you can clearly see the future, it doesn’t matter how slowly the market moves, as long as you don’t stop and you focus on staying ahead by helping customers faster than anyone else. The secret of getting ahead is to execute relentlessly, no matter what challenges arise.
This is the history and background of two dedicated people who had, and continue to carry, a vision to make it easy for the entire world to manufacture with one click. These are “the doers and masterminds” of producing one of the most productive, forward thinking and innovative companies in the industry.
3D Control Systems is built entirely on hard work and the lessons learned in those founding years. The team’s technical skills have proven they can make the impossible possible, by working days, nights, weekends, and holidays to help their customers make 3d printing easy and scalable. They were connecting 3D printers online before printers even had onboard network capabilities.
The two individuals who are behind the achievement of 3D Control Systems are John Dogru and Anton Vedeshin, PhD. They started from nothing, bootstrapped the company, and now lead a global presence that continues to set an example, breaking the barriers to democratize 3D printing. Carrying forward the power and momentum of the best and brightest early adopters in academic institutions allowed them to build, measure, refine, and iterate the product at a faster rate compared to starting with slow moving enterprise clients that were stuck in their old school ways.
We’ll be publishing more instalments of the inspiring story of 3D Control Systems history and founders in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for more.
Sept 23rd, 12PM EDT
Come and learn more about Harvard and Montclair University’s experiences on how to manage 3D printing at their Institution.
Chris Hansen is the Digital Fabrication Technical Specialist at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Christopher Hansen will also be presenting his newest findings on his latest research paper: Comparative Analysis – 3D Printers vs Laser Cutters. He will be examining the financial costs and usage patterns of 3d printing and laser cutting equipment at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD)over six academic years to help serve as a guide to other makerspaces in their allocation of resources and decision making.
He has an interest in fabrication and making things, in both the physical and digital worlds. His background is in design and architecture. His early experience in creating things was in silversmithing. Since then, He’s expanded his skillset to operate and manage physical tools and resources with over a decade of experience in academic shops. Enabling users, faculty, students, researchers the ability to create physical objects of their research and explorations. He believes that the future of education and commercial industry is a merging of both the physical and digital worlds to create extended reality methods of representation and interaction.
Jason M. Frasca is the Entrepreneurship Instructor and Startup Mentor at Montclair State University.
Jason has dedicated his career to designing radically innovative technology solutions and processes for his companies, employers and clients. By deconstructing complex problems Jason provides a systems design approach to the execution of optimized business performance. This optimization mindset has yielded massive results with limited resources. He is an entrepreneurial business executive, marketing, and sales professional with 20+ years of experience managing Fortune 500 and nationally recognized clients in direct marketing, non-profit, entrepreneurs, startups, private investigations, insurance, and international law firms.
Rene-Oscar Ariko is the VP of Global Sales at 3DPrinterOS (3D Control Systems)
Oscar has helped to deploy thousands of printers for tens of thousands of students at leading universities such as UC Berkeley, Duke, MIT, Columbia, Yale University and many other ones. He’s been with the company for more than 7 years and pioneered how to establish 3DPrinterOS as the leading 3D printing management SaaS platform.
Join us to learn how they are paving the way in #3dprinting and their outlook on how to run 3D Printing labs efficiently.
Making things together. It’s what humankind has done best since the very beginning. At 3D Control Systems, it’s what we’re more excited about than ever. That’s why we’re announcing our new brand and logo, unifying 3DPrinterOS,Secured 3D,and ZAP under the 3D Control Systems structure.
The way we make things together is changing. Today, manufacturing is enabled by next-generation technologies and controlled by connection and automation. The power to control, analyze and improve manufacturing processes is in our hands more than ever before. With our portfolio of brands focused on automated workflows for additive manufacturing, advanced CNC and industry 4.0, 3D Control Systems aspires to make manufacturing accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. The simple vision of making it easy for our customers to innovate and manufacture parts.
When the time came to create our new brand and logo, we wanted most of all to connect the history of humankind’s excellence and ingenuity with the exciting things we can do today. Our new logo brings together the wheel, humankind’s fundamental invention, with the gear, calling back to the power of industry to build things that work. Lastly, our logo is built around the 3-dimensional cube, which signifies our commitment to engineering excellence in today’s world of advanced manufacturing, including industrial additive manufacturing, robotics, and CNC. You’ll get a first look at our new brand at RAPID + TCT (Sept. 13-15) at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL. The transition to our new branding across our portfolio will be a gradual process.
“We aim to partner, push and lead the world of 3D printing with our technologies, concepts, and tools.”, while talking about the brand’s vision. “Connect. Integrate. Automate. These our are guiding principles and we remain committed to that path to transform benefit the future generations of 3DP users.”
We believe that making things together is humankind’s greatest challenge and purpose. Our new brand connects the power of today’s advanced manufacturing with humankind’s history of innovation and engineering. We’re excited to meet your digital workflow needs and get to work making things together with you.
3D Control Systems is the parent start’s up company of 3DPrinterOS, which revolutionized the desktop 3D printing industry with their Operating System platform introducing “one click” manufacturing. 3D Control Systems has now launched ZAP, an automated, workflow platform purpose-built for advanced manufacturing, helping customers drive efficiencies and simplification.
To learn more visit www.3dcontrolsystems.com.
3D printing is becoming more accessible to the general public, and its use will be further facilitated as OctoPrint and 3DPrinterOS have announced that they will be partnering up.
Customers now can easily log into 3DPrinterOS.com and the Octoprint Plug is easy to install and connect your 3D printer online, for remote control and easier access.
This is exciting news as more homes and companies are using 3D printers for different purposes, and this integration brings with it the expectation of a more streamlined use.
A 3D Printer creates three-dimensional objects from different materials like powder or plastic by using computer-aided design (CAD). These printers are very flexible and can print a variety of different things. The printing works in layers where they are piled up on top of each other, bottom to top, until the finished object is complete.
OctoPrint is a Web interface for printers. This application is used to control your 3D printer remotely.
This open-source solution first launched in 2012, with the more stable version that came out early this year. It is a globally popular product available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, and it is all being developed by a lone German software engineer – Gina Häußge.
3DPrinterOS is an operating system for 3D printers, and it offers complete software packages such as Firmware, Cloud Platforms, etc. It covers all the aspects of 3D printing, as well as advanced manufacturing workflows.
3DPrinterOS has made its mission to ease 3D printer management, and this partnership is aimed to help ease integration processes.
A 3D printer can be used in many different industries for multiple purposes. Some of which are:
3D printing is used in a few particular fields of medicine – namely bioprinting and prosthetics.
Bioprinting is where cells and growth factors are joined together to make structures similar to tissue where they can mimic their natural counterparts.
Prosthetics made via 3D printing are modifiable to a patient’s particular measurements and requirements, which are a cheaper alternative to normal prosthetics.
These are especially useful in children, as their size is constantly changing, so it would be expensive to purchase new prosthetics as soon as the old one is outgrown, but this is not an issue with 3D printable prosthetics as these can be changed multiple times a year at much lower cost points.
3D printing allows students to easily create inexpensive prototypes without the need for advanced and heavy-duty tools. It gives the students a way to turn ideas from a page to a physical item that they can see and hold, and it brings their creativity to life.
3D printed objects can get completed within a few hours, depending on the particular size, design, and complexity. This is still considered faster than traditional methods, which could easily take more hours, or even days to complete.
The designing process of the objects can also be quicker as creating CAD or STL files is relatively quick, and when these files are created, they are ready to be printed.
3D printing enables the construction industry to fabricate buildings and components inexpensively. The construction rate can be faster, the labor costs are significantly lower, the level of waste produced is also lower, and the construction is more accurate and complex.
Jewellery makers can experiment with different designs and try out more innovative and creative styles that would be difficult and waste resources in the normal jewellery-making methods. The jewellery can also be customized to the customers’ preferences and uniquely catered to their demands at cheaper costs when using certain 3D printing materials.
By 3DPrinterOS teaming up with OctoPrint to become its corporate sponsor, it will open up a new avenue for the future of 3D printing. This promising integration will only benefit the 3D printing market and further normalize its personal and commercial use.
The main issue with these integrations is that it is expensive and difficult to integrate 3D printers and build software.
You need to have a great level of experience and expertise, as well as a hefty chunk of change – easily in the millions. The programmer-level skill required is not easy to come by. This is where many companies seem to lack such resources, as in-house programming teams are needed to integrate OctoPrint fully.
Due to the companies falling short on these requirements, integrations have not been as successful in the past.
3DPrinterOS brings with it its new 3D Printer Software Development Kit, where they aim to provide solutions to companies that have machines. This is not only catered to those working up to a new installation type. It also works for something new being offered to the market.
Whatever the case may be, 3DPrinterOS wants to facilitate these companies and help them get their products or services to the market.
3DPrinterOS strives to provide cost-friendly and less time-consuming 3D printing software solutions for you and your company’s FFF 3D printers.
When working with high-end customers such as FFF 3D printer manufacturers, users, makers, etc., 3DPrinterOS tries to find the best and easiest solutions for 3D printing integration. They offer this as a software service, where you get everything in a single place instead of needing to hire an entire team.
The 3DPrinterOS SDK comes in two versions – free and paid. The free version is packed with features, but the paid version is for the premium consumers that desire access to more advanced features.
To begin your integration, speak to one of our 3DPrinterOS experts, such as our CTO and Co-Founder Anton Vedeshin, to find timely and affordable solutions with guaranteed effectiveness.
Due to our financial sponsorship of OctoPrint, 3D printers sold with our license are a way to bring financial support to a community.
We are 3DPrinterOS’s parent company, known for pioneering the computer 3D printing market with their OS platform that brought forth “one-click” manufacturing.
3D Control Systems brings you an automated workflow platform meant for advanced manufacturing to increase efficiency and provide more simple solutions.
Check us out now at:
Welcome back to Bockman’s Bites … now, on to the last one…
The bedrock principle of Lean Six Sigma is to reduce waste by evaluating DOWNTIME or Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra Processing. If you’re familiar with additive manufacturing then you know that these same principles can be applied more often than we care to admit. However, there are solutions that will lead to process improvements.
It’s important to remember the DMAIC model in Six Sigma and that’s where I start when approaching a customer who already has components of a workflow. Understanding the outcomes expected, but first baselining and process mapping the entire workflow looking for those gaps is first and foremost.
The next generation of industrialization is committed to an agile manufacturing approach. Defined by the ability to quickly respond to customer production needs, agile manufacturing embraces AM and integrates sophisticated software tools to enhance productivity. If we combine that with the Lean Six Sigma concept, then we can begin addressing immediate concerns with AM and solve problems like supply chain resiliency.
Production Planning | Having access to a centralized Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution capable of organizing AM technologies and material capabilities across multiple facilities enables production specialists to quickly print parts and immediately service customer needs. Oftentimes referred to as on demand manufacturing, this process eliminates the need for warehousing and will completely transform the traditional supply chain that constantly faces logistical nightmares (tariffs, long lead times, emissions). This creates a significant opportunity for repair and spare part providers to locally produce parts for aviation, transportation and defense products that cannot afford equipment downtime.
Maximize Throughput | Data is key to improving workflows. Management Execution Systems (MES) are designed to connect, track and monitor complex systems to ensure operational efficiency and improve production output. Having an integrated software that seamlessly connects conventional manufacturing with AM enables engineering teams to quickly assess technology benefits and assign production requests using time, quality and cost metrics. With the right software, engineers can identify AM ready parts, develop cost assessments and provide complete production transparency to management. It’s a strategic communication tool that relies on data and connectivity.
Maximizing the benefits of Lean Six Sigma takes an entire organization into consideration, encompassing hardware, software, processes and people. Is one more important than another when it comes to overall productivity? Not necessarily, but I argue that a sophisticated software solution cannot be underestimated and can likely become the backbone to process improvement. Reducing waste, eliminating downtime and enhancing throughput all relies on accurate data and production transparency. Ask yourself, how are you reducing waste in your process? What type of data do you use to justify decisions?
At 3D Control Systems, we are tackling this head on and invite you to learn more about our software solutions that are addressing the problems of today and proactively preparing for ones of tomorrow.
Welcome back to Bockman’s Bites … now, on to the second one…
I’ve decided now is not the time to discuss the benefits of additive manufacturing, but rather the challenges. While additive manufacturing has evolved for the past three decades, it’s still a relatively young industry, and we are beginning to see new hardware, software and material providers pop up everyday. It’s certainly an exciting time for AM enthusiasts, but it’s cumbersome for many commercial and industrial manufacturers who wish to maximize the advantages of AM. It introduces a lot of waste (muda) into the workflow that traditional manufacturing has conquered. In my estimation, these are the biggest challenges that L6S-AM can tackle. I witnessed it many times when I was visiting customers in automotive.
Combining with Conventional Manufacturing | How can AM be complementary to existing processes? For starters, designing with AM is unique compared to subtractive manufacturing and requires a different engineering mindset. In addition, most production facilities are unwilling to completely change their processes without understanding the time, quality or cost benefits associated with AM. This lack of knowledge and confidence leads to adoption hesitancy. How is the industry addressing it today?
Contract Manufacturing or Service Bureaus | Embracing new technologies and innovation comes with careful consideration for many machine shops and production facilities. The challenge is to find a complementary approach to manufacturing that seamlessly determines which technology is the most cost effective (or time sensitive) solution depending on the part or application. This is not easy considering the subtle design differences required to maximize each technology or material. For many machine shops and contract manufacturers, this connection may not exist which leads to poor utilization or worse, lack of technical understanding of the capabilities. How are manufacturers making it easier on themselves?
US Machine shops are oftentimes family owned businesses that have organically grown and adopted technologies as the business expands. They may have CNC, injection molding, tooling, sand casting, and additive manufacturing capabilities under one roof. A recent report suggests that 26% of major OEMs are already outsourcing parts to a contract manufacturer/service bureau and expect that number to increase year-over-year due to a variety of reasons. Machine shops are looking for a way to reduce the additive manufacturing process which tends to be super manual and labor intensive. Not to mention, contract manufacturers are without a software solution that can connect all the technologies which leads to cumbersome production, missed timelines or duplicated efforts. The anticipated growth forces many machine shops to identify a software platform that allows them to digitally view the production floor, assign projects, and proactively identify problems (failed builds, predictive maintenance, equipment downtime). Having an integrated software that aggregates data from these production processes will enable engineers to determine a cost/time analysis and get parts out the door faster and cheaper. The competition isn’t waiting, why should you?
Check back in next week to see how the L6S-AM is affecting the automotive and aviation industries.
Leveraging Equipment & Technical Expertise | Companies with multiple prototyping or production facilities are oftentimes handcuffed when it comes to optimizing technology capabilities. This is common for major OEM’s in aerospace, automotive and defense sectors that do not have access to partner facilities located in the US or elsewhere. We are beginning to see more OEM’s create AM Centers of Excellence, but it remains challenging for the entire organization to leverage resources and plan accordingly. L6S-AM is an important consideration because the bottlenecks associated with poor planning will result in wasteful spending or worse. Additive manufacturing machinery, like any major capital equipment expenditure—has a shelf life, and downtime is unacceptable.
Automotive & Aviation | Automotive and aviation manufacturers are notorious for having multiple production and final assembly plants strategically located throughout the globe. The technology at each site varies depending on a variety of reasons (expertise, access, proximity, etc.) but the glaring challenge is to leverage the right technology, for the right application, that provides maximum value to the organization. Too often, the different facilities do not communicate well enough and are completely blind to what is available for resources. There is no singular language or software platform that can seamlessly connect the departments and accurately monitor equipment or material inventory in real-time. Simply put, it’s a lack of resource utilization.
AM was originally destined to be a prototyping tool so OEMs never implemented lean practices that would enable the technology to be a true manufacturing alternative. While AM is revolutionary, many manufacturers are losing precision cycle time just waiting between queues.
Lufthansa Technik, a major supplier of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services partnered with Oerlikon AM in 2018 to establish an AM Center dedicated to advancing the technology. The ability to produce one-off spare parts will cut costs significantly and improve lead times. Other manufacturers are adopting a similar strategy and beginning to centralize AM expertise while continuing to decentralize hardware capabilities, enabling on demand and localized production. With countless SKU’s, design standards, and testing data, it becomes challenging to aggregate this information for actionable purposes. Having an integrated software that combines data with production transparency will ultimately lead to better planning and less downtime.
Check back in next week to see how L6S-AM is affecting the medical market.
Data Transparency | AM introduces so many new technologies, materials, post processing requirements, pricing models and design considerations that it becomes dizzying. Not to mention, the industrial infancy of AM is a key contributor to the lack of standards available within the marketplace. How can engineers, scientists, doctors, and researchers maximize additive manufacturing without a proper execution system in place that can track, aggregate and monitor so many valuable data inputs? Without data or worse, inaccurate data, management is completely blind and unable to make process improvements. The medical market, well-known for its strict standards, embraces additive manufacturing but is still learning how to optimize it. Can a L6S approach help streamline additive manufacturing processes and improve efficiency?
AM has been tremendously beneficial to the development of personalized patient healthcare options. Custom treatments, prosthetics, surgery solutions, implants and more are now possible with additive manufacturing. However, implementing AM into a hospital setting compounds the challenge that already exists, too much data. Combining large, digital patient data with AM is a nightmare for most doctors and physicians. It’s cumbersome, complicated and inefficient.
Trim the fat. Cut your losses. Eliminate Muda.
I am writing a short series of bites about the importance of implementing Lean Six Sigma methodology in Additive Manufacturing. It not only drives efficiencies and increase output, but it can improve quality levels as well.
I will open up the first bite with the background of what L6S is in traditional manufacturing and some of my experience.
Bite I : What is Lean Six Sigma and AM Combined?
Continuous improvements for any department of an organization are paramount to the successful growth and adaptation of a business. In our hyper competitive commercial and industrial marketplace there is no excuse for downtime, so what steps are you taking today to maximize organizational or production efficiency?
Lean Six Sigma is a managerial concept born from the combination of lean manufacturing and Six Sigma aimed to identify operational weaknesses, expose variation and make adjustments for continuous improvements. While each concept was used separately during the 1980’s and 90’s primarily for automotive and electronics manufacturing, it became a joint idea during the early 2000’s and has since transformed manufacturing. With the ultimate intention to identify weaknesses and improve operational efficiency, Lean Six Sigma has become a significant tool across many different industries and professions. In my own experience at General Electric, L6S was a part of our culture, our DNA. I had the privilege to work with a Lean Sensei, who helped us learn and apply methodologies in our manufacturing plants. We made real improvements by identifying ways to remove unnecessary steps in our workflow and eliminate muda (waste). With my knowledge of Lean Six Sigma and a decade of implementation experience, I’m turning my sights towards additive manufacturing. What needs to be done in order to fully optimize AM and the future of manufacturing? Can L6S work in additive manufacturing?
The additive manufacturing (AM) industry is relatively young. However, there are countless hardware, software, technology and material companies popping up everyday and making significant impacts. For reference, the AM market is expected to exceed $20 billion by 2023. Alternatively, the CNC market was valued at approximately $7.87 billion in 2020, further indicating that AM is certainly here to stay. But we haven’t figured out all the kinks yet.
L6S is about efficiency. AM has already proven itself as a viable prototyping and production unit but what steps can be taken to truly maximize utilization? While 3D printing is a revolutionary piece of hardware technology, the brains and machine connectivity within a machine shop or manufacturing space is average at best. Smart manufacturing relies on actionable information collected through key data points and must be driven by intelligent systems. For example, contract manufacturing service providers in the US have grown significantly and are desperate for a software platform that allows them to digitally view the production floor, assign projects, and proactively identify problems (failed builds, predictive maintenance, equipment downtime). Simply put, how can we make additive manufacturing smarter? Check back in next week for our next installment of L6S-AM when we address the challenge of combining conventional manufacturing methods and what that means for certain industries.
Feel free to share comments, your experience and where you think it’s headed.
Duke University is home to one of the largest 3D printing networks in US academia. Over 120 3D printers are accessible by an entire student body enabling the prototyping and production of countless ideas and inventions. Applications vary with interest but it ranges from anywhere between entrepreneurial engineering to architectural modeling and beyond. Duke’s Fab-Lab has found a way to democratize 3D printing by adopting cutting edge hardware technologies and combining it with sophisticated workflow software solutions that make 3D printing simple and approachable for all academic disciplines in their campus. We sat down with Chip Bobbert, CoLab Architect and Senior Technologist, to learn more on how they are managing their 3D printing network maker spaces.
Bobbert, former Command Center Specialist for the US Marine Corps, began working at Duke University in 2013 after spending two decades as a media technology engineer. His experience in conventional machining, media technology, 3D printing and education drives his ability to manage and improve the Duke CoLab.
What is so special about the Duke 3D printing network? “Duke is a geographically large campus, approximately 3,500 developed acres. We have three maker spaces, consisting of approximately 80 printers, while our sister labs are assigned to specific programs located in multiple locations. With over 120 total printers on campus, we have found a way to simplify 3D printing and enable access to over 2,500 students year-over-year. Our maker spaces are predominantly filled with a range of Ultimaker 3D printers and our collective network is powered by 3D Control Systems’, 3DPrinterOS software solution. These complementary technologies enable Duke students from any discipline to access the printer network and build parts.”
What are the challenges with having such a vast printer network? “First, we needed to determine how the program itself would work — would students pay for parts? What does scheduling look like? How would we manage it? Having printers located throughout campus is great but we quickly realized that a middleware management software system would allow us to delegate rights to users and manage the flow of files from a centralized platform. We were shocked to find that not many software options like this existed, considering that there are countless 3D printers on the market, we thought this was rare.
Of course, the platform needs to function properly but we require an identity management capability that allows us to authenticate users from anywhere and be monitored from one location.”
How did Duke solve this challenge and what does access look like today? “After searching for a software platform and even creating our own, we decided to try 3DPrinterOS. The printer management functionality is good but the real benefit is user management. There are thousands of unique users every year so we need software that would integrate into our system and accommodate that type of turnover. Let’s face it, designing for 3D printing can be complex but the printers themselves are typically low IQ systems that require a boost for ultimate connectivity and user optimization. 3DPrinterOS helps us accomplish that and now, we are expanding access to 3D printing way beyond the engineering department. Inventioning is possible for designers, architects, sculptures, artists and more.”
What is the future of 3D printing at Duke? “Convenience is key. How can we make 3D printing as simple and easy as 2D printing? The software platform is a powerful tool that democratizes access to the 3D printer network but we need to get closer to printing something with a single click of a button. Nobody cares about the printer, they care about their designs and parts. As a 3D printer evangelist, I understand this and believe that if we continue to simplify the process then it will become much more convenient and accessible. 3D printing has the ability to unlock so many new opportunities for bespoke manufacturing, medical applications, and beyond. I want non-engineers, scientists, doctors, and anyone else to have the ability to get parts in hand.”
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