Stratasys announced a partnership with former Tonight Show host Jay Leno.
This may seem unexpected at first, being an arrangement between an industrial equipment manufacturer and a Hollywood icon. However, as you will see this pairing does make a great deal of sense.
Before and since his retirement from Hollywood activities, Leno is well-known for his collection of exotic automobiles. His collection is likely a bit larger than you might expect, currently counting some 169 autos and 117 motorcycles.
To put this number in perspective, its approximately enough vehicles to fill this huge parking area:
Yeah, that’s a lot of vehicles!
3D Printing Spare Parts
Complicating the issue is that all of the vehicles are notable in some way. They are often older, rare vehicles for which there are no spare parts. In some cases they are from manufacturers that no longer exist, and could be the only example of such a model remaining in existence.
This explains Leno’s otherwise curious interest in 3D printing tech: a 3D printer can, with an appropriate 3D model, replace a broken part.
While producing such a part is as easy as hitting “Print”, there is a bit of a challenge beforehand in obtaining the 3D model. Typically in such cases a reverse engineering process is undertaken.
A broken part is 3D scanned into a CAD system, where the scan is used as a guide to develop a complete 3D representation of the damaged part.
Leno Joins Performance Partner Program
That’s not new, as Leno has been working with Stratasys equipment and that company’s 3D print service for many years on these activities. But now the change is that Jay Leno’s operation, Big Dog Productions/Garage, is now an official member of Stratasys’ new Performance Partner Program.
This program is designed to assist power users in exploiting 3D printing to the utmost degree. Other members of this program include ventures exploring the edge of the envelope in their respective domains:
Joe Gibbs Racing
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Don Schumacher Racingx
Stratasys Performance Partner Program
The Stratasys Performance Partner Program is a way for Stratasys to work much more closely with those pushing the envelope. It benefits partners by allowing for deeper relationships with Stratasys expertise, but also provides an opportunity for Stratasys to find out more about how companies intend on implementing their technology.
I’m not surprised at this development, as Leno’s garage has so many vehicles to maintain it requires considerable effort. What’s fascinating about this work is that it seems Leno has instituted a digital inventory for the vehicle parts.
Digital Inventory is a new concept that is being developed by several 3D printing companies. The idea is to maintain spare parts digitally rather than in physical form by using storage of 3D models. Then, and only when required, would the part be produced physically by sending the 3D model to a 3D printer.
Leno intends on using the Stratasys equipment, which looks like a Fortus 450mc 3D printer, to produce spare parts on demand in this way. Most probably the parts will be made from Stratasys’ strong FDM Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber proprietary material.
Jay Leno on Stratasys
It seems that Leno is quite excited about the partnership, saying:
“As a lover of classic cars, I’m always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible in creation and re-creation of these vehicles – and 3D printing is integral to this process. After working with Stratasys and Stratasys Direct for years to drive the ultimate in 3D printing innovation, I’m really excited about this new Fortus machine and where it takes us next.”
I’m thankful for Leno and the other partners in this program, because they are the ones that will work out the best methods of implementing a digital inventory, which will surely become the standard for industry in the eventual future.