Rapid Prototyping with Z-Corp Printer

We're buying a Z-Corp 510 printer. I'd like to get a feel for how much
outside contracting we can do with the thing. We've been getting a lot
of interest from the customers we've shown sample parts to. Any ideas,
interest? We're in the Portland OR area.
Thanks,
Reply to
jkimmel
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If you'll do just a small amount of research regarding the competition you would have I think you would drop the idea rather quickly. The rapid prototyping business is hotly competitive, there are a lot of folks doing it, and the cost is constantly being driven down and the results are constantly improving. Even if you were able to get a few firms interested in using your machine they would likely drift away as soon as competing technology would provide a better result for similar cost . . . and that wouldn't take long. In short, if your own internal use can't justify the expense, don't even consider it.
'Sporky'
Reply to
Sporkman
We're just down I5 from you in Corvallis. I agree with Sporky. ARRK and RPDG are very competitive.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
Reply to
Jerry Steiger
I will say that the Z-Corp as good as it is, still basically is limited by its resolution and materials it works with. Sometimes the infustion of other materials into the model can cost you time and money that is not insignificant, too.
If I was doing a lot of "what ifs" and "ooh look" type prototypes for esthetic reasons and kept the machine busy for 4-6 hours a day, then I would know I'ld get my money's worth out of it. But someone has to run it, keep it tuned up and supplies ordered, so there is a cost to keeping it running, too.
I do parts which snap together and have molded hinges and need to be quality RP parts mimicking the structure of molded plastic and the 3D System stereolithography with Somos 8100 material is about as necessary as air for me to survive. Hence, I don't seek to have Z-Corp RP parts made.
The RP firm in So Cal that I use must have about 5-6 RP technologies available depending on customer needs.
Reply to
Bonobo
I will say that the Z-Corp as good as it is, still basically is limited by its resolution and materials it works with. Sometimes the infustion of other materials into the model can cost you time and money that is not insignificant, too.
If I was doing a lot of "what ifs" and "ooh look" type prototypes for esthetic reasons and kept the machine busy for 4-6 hours a day, then I would know I'ld get my money's worth out of it. But someone has to run it, keep it tuned up and supplies ordered, so there is a cost to keeping it running, too.
I do parts which snap together and have molded hinges and need to be quality RP parts mimicking the structure of molded plastic and the 3D System stereolithography with Somos 8100 material is about as necessary as air for me to survive. Hence, I don't seek to have Z-Corp RP parts made.
The RP firm in So Cal that I use must have about 5-6 RP technologies available depending on customer needs.
Reply to
Bonobo
As with anything, there is a groove and type for any of these new systems and applications. Some of what ppl know about the current systems is from past knowledge of what was and not what is current. As you have already seen, there is a need for the 510 in your office and I know quite a few different companies that use the 510 in medical, design, and various engineering companies.
You can't beat the cost and time to print plus full color of models created with the 510. You can't beat the flexibility of materials from one machine. People say, "well models from the machine are not strong" once again, that's all relative to what you are doing. Parts can be infused with any number of different liquids to achieve a wide variety of strengths. Plus, name any other process that can create a mold that you can directly cast metals to.
Someone posted about how there is a cost in running the machine and ordering supplies, ummmmm show me a machine that runs itself and calls the company it came from to order supplies and I have a bridge for sale, it only cost $.50 bottom line none of these RP machines is 100% with out flaws, you can't have an SLA/SLS machine in your office with out certain precautions in regards to health issues. (i.e. venting) You have a plastic machine that have support structures that have to be broken off or dissolved in a liquid solution. You have Zcorps machine which some parts may or may not need infiltration.
I have worked in a service bureau for a few years and if you are going to start to out source your machine there are some definite consideration to take into account. If you need some help with this, let me know.
Reply to
modelsin3d
Not sure if rapid prototyping is as competitive as machining. The few times I've sent parts to rapid prototype shops for quoting, the prices have come back higher than if I just got them machined. So that's what I end up doing.
Last week I sent out a fancy hook for RP quoting. I ended up getting it cast out of alum for the same price.
Maybe I need to find some new sources?
Reply to
abc
I'd venture to guess that you need some different sources, yes. But it all depends on the complexity of the parts you're trying to get made. The more complex the part, generally, the more rapid prototyping can be competitive with machine work (but that also depends on how automated your favored machine shop is). Except, that if you're trying to get low volume production going even complex machine work may cost less IF the NC program can simply be set to run automatically and the only setup is to feed material. Low volume rapid prototyping MIGHT mean using a master to create an elastomer mold, and then using the mold to cast duplicates. Creating metal tooling for casting can also be cheaper for low volume production, simply because using elastomer molds requires exacting and time-consuming hand processing.
All in all, the variables can be so complex one can't always with fair certainties predict what processes will be best for your parts. But what I meant by "competitive" is that there are a whole bunch of companies doing it and they are getting more and more automated and good at it, and cheaper and cheaper trying to undercut each other. There has been a couple of issues of Desktop Engineering
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that were devoted to rapid prototyping. One of 'em a year or so back had a LONG list of service bureaus. I personally have used a company called Forecast 3D with good success. Quickparts works pretty well, too, with SOME kinds of parts, but they're not always the best for what I need.
Mark 'Sporky' Stapleton Watermark Design, LLC
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Reply to
Sporkman
This is the sample we had printed by our Z-corp salesman:
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The green represents .050 aluminum formed over the light brown die. When my boss saw that, he said "I gotta have it." I would love it if there were a bunch of rapid prototyping companies around Portland with a bunch of different rapid prototyping capabilities, but I haven't been able to find any. Precision Castparts is the only company in Portland who's advertising their rapid prototyping capability, and they haven't returned my call yet. The Z-corp salesmen have been providing the best rapid prototyping service so far.
Can anybody suggest anyone local who does 3D printing in any format? The last time I got a quote for rapid prototyping, it was really hard to find a local company to do it, their machine was fairly old, and it cost almost as much as machining the finished part.
Sporkman wrote:
Reply to
jkimmel
What's the big deal about having a source in or near where you work? Most of the reputable players overnight your part(s) to you, and most of them will get back to you immediately if you contact them. They realize that to do otherwise is to lose business. I would refuse to deal with "Precision Castparts" just for that reason alone.
As for having Z-Corp capabilities, there are surely a WHOLE BUNCH of service bureaus who have Z-Corp 510 and several other types of machines as well, all with different capabilities. Unless the 510 is ALWAYS going to serve your needs best and unless you're going to keep in going full blast most of the time I seriously doubt that purchasing one would be cost-effective.
Sounds like your company needs to do some basic ROI research. Somebody has been snowed by a fast talkin' salesman (i.e., somebody is getting ready to be bent over the barrel).
Mark 'Sporky' Stapleton Watermark Design, LLC
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jkimmel wrote:
Reply to
Sporkman
Given the miracle of Fedex, why does it need to be a local company? I'm on the east coast, and because of the time difference with California, I actually get better service from somebody 3 times zones away than I do from the local guys.
Reply to
Michael
Same here!
I too have priced prototype parts against machining and was surprised to discover machining is often less expensive. And some of the places I have called upon didn't appear to have all that much overhead to support.
Kman
Reply to
Kman
There are plenty of them out there. Any particular reason the service has to be in your area or State?
Kman
Reply to
Kman
Solid Concepts in Valencia,CA.....always fast and great work. Usually a 2 day turnaround after PO issued from us. And we're in the mid-West. Multiple types of materials and manufacturing. Try them. They're not local, but are very reliable.
Reply to
cschultz
Jim, You could try Synergy in Seattle. You used to have lots of options but most are now gone. It's a pretty competetive market.
Reply to
John R. Carroll
We haven't used Synergy in quite a while, as they always seemed to be slightly slower and slightly more expensive than the others. Like the other people who replied to you, we don't worry about where the rapid prototype machine is located, just about how fast, how good, and how cheap the parts are. Quickparts has been good for sheet metal, ARRK and RPDG have been good for plastic parts, but we have found that we always have to have several people quote to get the best deal.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
Reply to
Jerry Steiger
Jerry, I haven't used them in some time myself. I think the focus there has shifted to soft tooling. Rubber and Aluminum molds and that sort of thing. Also some machined prototypes. They used to be a good source for SLA builds and they were a little pricey but always a first class job.
Reply to
John R. Carroll
And indeed Solic Concepts may offer great customer service because of the other competitor right "around the corner" at Scicon in Valencia, CA:
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Reply to
Bonobo
Thanks Bonobo,
Always looking for prototype companies. What are their rates like? Are they fast turnaraound as well?
Later
Reply to
cschultz
Rates seem competitive.
SLA Parts are typically 3-4 days, though I am not trying to negotiate for fastest possible turn-around.
They happily quote.
Bo
Reply to
Bonobo

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