Summer Internship at a 3D Printing Service Provider
I am an incoming freshmen to the University of Dayton in their Engineering programming the fall of 2019. The last few years, I have had a growing interest in the world of 3D printing. This summer, I took it to the next level and had an internship at Re3dtech, a 3D printing service provider. We printed some of the most amazing parts, from a full-sized baseball helmet to thousands of intricate end use parts.
What an experience.
A 3D printing service provider is a job shop/contract manufacturer for people and companies looking to outsource 3D printed parts.
Re3dtech uses two of the most cutting edge technologies in additive manufacturing, HP Jet Fusion and Markforged. The HP MJF technology is a full production printer. This allows customers to go from one piece prototypes to thousands of end-use production parts. Markforged produces carbon fiber parts that often replace metal parts for fixtures and EOAT(end of arm tooling).
I got to experience nearly every aspect of the business. The process starts with generating a quote for a customer looking to print a new part. Re3dtech uses Paperless Parts for their digital quoting system. We would take a look at the uploaded file to make sure of its printability, number of parts necessary, and provide pricing and delivery dates. I also got to set up builds for the HP 4200 Jet Fusion printers using Autodesk Netfab software. The monte carlo auto-packing feature was always fun to watch, nesting hundreds of parts together in a build. Most of my days were spent in the back of the shop, working on the post-processing of hundreds of parts a day.
My day started with an alarm at 6:50 and entering the shop at 8. The first thing I would do was check with the Production Manager to see what was to be prioritized for the day. Re3dtech runs two HP 4210’s and the newest HP 5210 production 3D printer. These printers needed to be cleaned every morning to prepare for later printing. Moving build units from the printer to the post-processing machines, I would go through a strict 20 minute cleaning process of the printers, checking supplies, filters, and printheads to make sure they were fully optimized.
Now, it’s time to unpack the build from the day before. The HP technology uses a powder-based PA12 material. The unused powder acts as support for the printed parts. The parts are buried in the powder, and I am like an archaeologist uncovering artifacts in the sand. I am always surprised at what I discover. One of the coolest parts was a model of a race car simulator used by Dallara at their Indianapolis Speedway facility. Other fascinating parts included prototype golf clubs, a Mars rover, and a jet engine turbine.
The powder covered parts now had to be cleaned.
I needed to get as much powder off of each of the parts as possible. I would start with brushing off the parts, then working with several tools to reach difficult angles where powder was trapped in. Drills were used for holes that went through parts that couldn’t be picked out. However, drilling through parts was a risk during this process that unfortunately happened to me once during this summer. Once this was finished, the parts would enter my specialized station, the Bead Blaster. For hours a day, I would stand at this large metal rectangle with thick rubber gloves reaching into the inside to shoot compressed air carrying tiny glass aggregate at the plastic parts to completely remove all powder and give the parts their standard grey color.
Ninety percent of everything Re3dtech ships out is a black part. To the dye station we go. This is as basic as it can get. We use a black Rit dye heated up in a large lobster pot and the rest is the secret sauce. Once out of the pot, the parts are rinsed and dried. One final post processing step with our DyeMansion Powershot S. HP personnel have repeatedly stated that Re3dtech produces some of the greatest looking parts in the industry.
The day comes to an end around the shipping station, which is the ping pong table, where we organize the outgoing packages. I’ve done everything from packing hundreds of boxes to producing shipping labels for parts going to NASA, Canada, Australia, Tokyo, and all around the world. One final run to the local UPS and FedEx and I’m on my way home for the night.
How would I sum up my summer internship at Re3dtech?
The experience has been invaluable. No doubt, a lot of hard work, long days covered in powder, but the ping pong matches, country music, and friendships developed with the other interns made it worth while. The knowledge gained about additive manufacturing and the hands on skills I developed will serve me well as I strive to become a mechanical engineer in the additive manufacturing industry.
Re3DTech Intern-Hayden Beck
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DELIVERING SUCCESS AT SCALE
My partner and I approached David at Re3dtech with our project and were greeted with kind and caring service. Throughout the last couple of months we have placed several orders in varying size and were even able to sit down with David and the owner to discuss our needs as a small business. Through this sit down we saw their passion for assisting both small and large clients in achieving their goals. We even had a hiccup with a batch of prints that was immediately addressed and remedied with precision and care. I almost don't want to recommend these guys because I feel like I have stumbled upon a hidden gem in 3D printing services and selfishly want to keep it to myself. Jokes aside we will be continuing our business relationship with the folks there and look forward to growing our order quantities and business with their help.
Re3DTech was instrumental in helping us get our product, Stroba™, to market faster! We needed a technology that could do snap fits and looks and feels as close the injection molded part as possible, and Re3D Tech was there for us. We used SOLIDWORKS Make to get in touch originally, upload models directly, and sign an NDA directly with their excellent team. It was really simple and easy to use their quoting tool as well. Excellent prices, excellent lead times, and superior quality are perfect words to describe our experience with Re3DTech. We went through many prototypes for Stroba™, and we at Goodfriend Innovations™ use Re3DTech for our other rapid prototyping jobs to help get our additional productions out to market faster than the competition. 5 Stars
I provided RE3DTECH three laser scanned ".stl" files for 3-D printing of prototypes. I used their on-line quote and file delivery process. The file acceptance and resultant quote were returned quickly. The parts were received at the quoted time. The parts are quite complex with many holes, angles, curvatures and notches. Each of the parts came out identical to the scanned parts dimensionally and passed the form/fit/function test in the upper level assembly. RE3DTECH has a high quality business process and produces high quality products. I will use them for future prototyping projects and recommend RE3DTECH.
Re3dtech is one of the most honest and reputable companies we have done business with. We decided to look into options for getting parts made in the USA for the retail market. It was awesome to find a local company with humble staff looking to provide their services meeting our criteria, not to mention meeting the Re3tech crew face to face and checking out their operation. Peter was very honest, knowledgable about design. Peter's creative element made working with him a great pleasure. Jim's flexibility was a breath of fresh air and greatly appreciated. CentralSound is proud to scratch the surface with Made in the USA parts in the retail market now, thanks to Re3dtech. Hope to do more business with them in the future.
Re3dtech has consistently delivered the best service I have ever received in the industry. Their response time is unmatched and they always stand by their parts and quality. They regularly make me look like an all star at my job.
It is always a pleasure to have a vendor that provides quality, experience, and always shows as much care for your order, and your product as you do!