A Visit to a 3D Metal Printing Shop

We had the opportunity to tour Precision ADM, a new service specializing in 3D printed metal parts. 

A Visit to Full Spectrum Laser

We managed to score an onsite tour of Full Spectrum Laser, the makers of the Pegasus and Phoenix Touch high-resolution 3D printers. 

A Visit to the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace

There are a great many makerspaces around the world and we recently were able to visit the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace in London. 

iMakr’s Unique Retail Concept

While in London recently we were able to visit the iMakr store, one of the few dedicated resellers of personal 3D printer gear. 

A Peek Inside Shapeways' Eindhoven Workshop

Shapeways community manager Bart Veldhuizen offers a video tour of the 3D print service company's Eindhoven site in The Netherlands. 
Veldhuizen walks through and explains each stage of the Shapeways process, including verification of incoming 3D models, printing, cleaning, finishing, quality control and packing. 
For some, Shapeways is like a black box, a mysterious factory that produces items at the touch of a button. But of course that's not really how it works. There are many people and sophisticated equipment involved in the process. You will see all of this in Veldhuizen's video. 
Via Vimeo

Exclusive: Inside the CubeX Factory

Hidden in the sleepy coastal town of Clevedon, UK, lies the secret factory that produces 3D Systems' CubeX 3D printer. We recently toured the factory to find out how these popular machines are created. 
Aside from a modest research and development unit, the entire facility is dedicated to production of CubeX's. It is indeed a factory; we observed trucks delivering components at one end of the building, while other trucks (or "Lorries", as they say in the UK) collected boxed finished units at the other end for shipment to points around the globe.  
The process of assembly is straightforward, but precisely coordinated along the multi-stage production line. The first stage involves connecting basic metal components together to form the machine's frame.
The frame travels along the production line where all the subcomponents are progressively attached.
Some complex subcomponents, such as the extruder, are pre-assembled by separate, dedicated teams to speed up the process. 
While most of the machine's components are delivered from distant factories, the metal components in the CubeX are actually manufactured right next door. A conveniently adjacent metal shop produces all the rods and other metal structures, simplifying the supply chain significantly. We're told the metal shop's proximity is also very handy when new prototypes are developed. 
Once a unit has been completely assembled, work has not finished. Each machine then moves to a test area where it undergoes rigorous testing and calibration. Specific test prints   ensure each machine works correctly. If not, the machine is diagnosed, repaired and recalibrated until it passes certification tests. 
Machines then move to Quality Control, where the machine is cleaned, inventoried and checked one last time. The final stage, of course, is packing and shipping. 
We were impressed with the efficiency of the CubeX factory; it is well organized and has appropriate assembly line process optimizations. We had a strong sense that the managers were constantly evaluating the assembly process to introduce improvements when identified. But the true test of any factory is the resulting products, which in this case are high-quality CubeXs.