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Trends in outsourcing and advancements in 3D printing

By <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/karen-majerly/" target="_self">Karen Majerly</a>

By Karen Majerly

Posted on September 4, 2023

Dan Straka leads TriMech’s Advanced Manufacturing Services (AMS) team, knowledgeable makers who take pride in creating accurate and well finished parts, whether producing a one-off custom piece or coordinating a run of thousands of components.

In this interview, Dan provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the AMS team operates and discusses advancements and trends in manufacturing services.

What services does the Advanced Manufacturing Services team offer?

We provide 3D design and consulting, 3D printing, 3D scanning and reverse engineering, casting in urethane and silicone, CNC machining, water jet cutting, and model-making and part finishing.

Our clients range from independent designers, to all sizes of engineering shops, to top-tier manufacturers.

I can talk about a lot of different manufacturing and fabrication processes under the heading of advanced manufacturing. One of the main ways we help is by working with clients to select the right technology, process, and material for their unique application.

For those who need 3D printing, we offer eight technologies, including the latest releases. These are SLA, MJF, SAF, SLS, FDM, P3, FFF, PolyJet, and DMLS.

TriMech Oakville AMC

TriMech Oakville AMS

 

Understanding that you serve a wide variety of clients, are there some common denominators or recent trends in the types of clients or projects?

Our clients are typically part of dynamic, forward-thinking, small- to medium-sized companies.

Post-COVID-19, a constant in our business is that we hear from people who haven’t had success elsewhere. They tell us they weren’t satisfied with the quality of the parts they received from a previous supplier, or that the communication wasn’t good enough. They are looking for a better experience.

Clients also come to us for complicated jobs. Recently we produced all the parts for a medical device, and the BOM had 22 parts. We used eight different processes and nine different materials.

I will add that recent economic realities have driven businesses to seek new solutions. We’re all living in a time of disruption, and business leaders are under pressure to reduce costs and get parts completed faster. They’re looking for alternative manufacturing methods and a less complex supply chain. They need to avoid shortages, delays, tariffs, or any risk related to political concerns. As manufacturing becomes increasingly decentralized, we’re playing a role.

What do you want people to know about the evolution of 3D printing over the last 10 years?

 

Materials lead the way

These days I say, “materials lead the way.” Sometimes clients aren’t aware of the latest advancements in 3D printing systems – not surprising, as there have been so many new entries.

Just as one example, when I was starting out, we had only a few technologies and materials on board. We had one clear and one white option for prints – now we offer more than 40 different additive manufacturing materials across all technologies. Many achieve impressive qualities for end-use parts, such as high heat deflection, high impact, rubber-like flexibility, and superior elongation.

An increasing desire to use 3D-printed parts as end-use parts has put a demand on research and development of material properties. We’re seeing more conversations around materials at a molecular level, such as how a part behaves or holds up when exposed to certain chemicals. We talk about longevity, sustainability, and capacity to survive in challenging environments, such as high humidity, high or low pressure, or nitrogen atmospheres. Awareness is still building around parts that can be used in commercial aerospace or outside in the elements.

What’s your process when first-time clients approach you with a potential project?

It’s the beginning of a partnership. Our team is your team.

We listen to and care about client needs. With every consultation, you’re going to get honest input. That might mean we suggest adjusting the design to optimize printing or allow for post-processing.

We keep an open mind and try not to funnel work through any one technology. We’ve always embraced the best technologies on the market and never feel tied to just one or two.

Our team outlines a logical path to solve a problem and works with the client to ensure that the plan meets project specs and quality considerations. And we work quickly – most clients have an immediate need, so it’s a very short sales cycle.

What do repeat clients say about your team? Why do they choose to work with you?

Clients can visit any one of our three shops and I know they will be impressed by the number and complexity of machines and equipment. But it’s our people that make the difference.

We’re problem-solvers at heart. Our focus is helping clients meet tough challenges using one or more of our services. Clients appreciate that they know the people who are doing the work, that we are connected to each project, and that we get to know their requirements and their parts.

So the human element stands out, even though you’re in the technology business?

Absolutely. We talk to our clients. A few prefer to upload a file and get a quote without a conversation, but we distinguish ourselves by taking the time to speak with our clients and help them through the entire process. Each of our locations has experts in specific technologies, allowing us to quickly lean on and learn from the experience within our team. We have a lot of ways to solve a problem, so our answer is always “yes.”

AMS team

There’s an art to what we do. Everyone here embraces that.

How do clients benefit from access to the wider TriMech team?

Across TriMech, teams of people specialize in software, hardware, and services that touch every aspect of the product development process. We can easily bring in experts in 3D scanning, or partner with our Project Engineering Group, which provides on-demand engineering services.

As part of TriMech, and as we continue to grow, we keep our small business mindset, putting clients first and attending to them quickly. The personal touch matters to our clients, and they’ve come to expect and rely on it.

 

Article by <a href="https://mfg.trimech.com/author/karen-majerly/" target="_self">Karen Majerly</a>

Article by Karen Majerly

Karen Majerly is a communications specialist who helps remarkable people tell rich stories. She has been working with the TriMech Group of companies since 2013.