PowderHeads: Episode 3

Cool Parts with Pete Zelinski and Stephanie Hendrixson

Join us as we sit down with Peter Zelinksi and Stephanie Hendrixson, hosts of the Cool Parts Show, a video series that focuses on different cool 3D printed parts with Additive Manufacturing Media. On this months' episode of PowderHeads, Pete and Stephanie speak about the growth of interest surrounding the show, the fun they've had making it and where it's all going in the future.

You can read the transcript or listen to the full episode below. 


Intro (00:09):

Hi everyone. And welcome to PowderHeads, a Carpenter Additive podcast. With each episode of PowderHeads, we bring you the minds of industry experts and delve into topics that are defining how additive manufacturing is making an impact on our world. In our latest episode, Kristal Kilgore, Carpenter Technology's, content development manager sits down with Pete Zelinksi and Stephanie Hendrixson hosts of the aptly named Cool Parts Show a video series from the team at additive manufacturing magazine. The online show focuses each episode on a super cool 3D printed part, how it was made and what it reveals around the possibilities of AM in an engaging conversation, Pete and Stephanie speak about the growth of interest surrounding the show, the fun they've had making it and where it's all going, Pete and Stephanie's deep experience in, I AM as engaging in timely. They believe we are on the cusp of an industry that is exploding and concurrently demonstrating an exciting level of disruption. Thanks for listening to PowderHeads and enjoy the conversation.

Kristal Kilgore (01:15):

So thank you for being here with us today, guys. Glad to be here. Um, I just wanna take a brief moment to actually talk about the Cool Parts Show. It's something you guys launched last year to start highlighting some of the results of these industrial 3D printers that everybody hears about. So one of the experience been like for you guys, it's something new in the additive space.

Pete Zelinksi (01:35):

Yeah. The, the Copart show. Um, so what has it been like? It's been a lot of fun. So we see the cool parts show is kind of like the, the wide part of the funnel in reaching people who are seriously thinking about additive as an industrial solution. Um, uh, there is this world of manufacturers out there who are persuaded, additive is going to be their future. And they're just not sure how soon that future comes or when exactly they make the leap. And, and in some cases, you know, we work for a company that speaks to an industrial audience, but, um, in some cases these are manufacturers. Um, maybe we don't know, and we don't, maybe we don't associate with additive yet because they're not there yet. The cool parts show is the way we've sort of raised the flag very high in terms of what additive is doing. And, um, at the same time, we're, we're, we're reaching this additive space too. That we're all a part of. And like the really fun part of it is just, uh, the, the exposure that it's gotten and, um, how much people want to talk to us about it. Cause they've seen the show. I don't know. Stephanie, what do you add to that?

Stephanie Hendrixson (02:51):

Yeah, so I think it's a lot of fun for us as editors because we have access to these different companies that are making all kinds of different cool parts, um, and To be able to focus each episode on one specific part and talk about not just how it was made, because obviously the additive process is super interesting. We, we love talking about that, but we really try to look for parts that let us say something about what's happening in the larger additive space. So we might talk about custom insoles that have been 3D printed, um, based on the scan of a person's foot, but that lets us say some things about mass customization and digital inventory and be able to kind of bring in these larger themes, um, by keeping it really specific on that one kind of part.

Kristal Kilgore (03:35):

And so that kind of ties in that additive is slowly becoming more mainstream. These days more traditional processes are starting to integrate it. So where do you think that we are on that adopted adoption trajectory from traditional manufacturing, um, that has been trusted and used for years in this new disruptive technology?

Stephanie Hendrixson (03:58):

Um, so I think in terms of adaption, we're seeing a lot of traditional manufacturers maybe sort of thought of additive as this kind of separate thing at first, like they set up a skunkworks or, um, an additive tech center or that sort of thing. And I feel like we're at a point sort of a tipping point now where the question is not so much is added it valuable or should we be looking at this? It's kind of, we've learned our lessons there and now we need to figure out how to roll it out to the rest of the company. How do we explain this to our engineers? If you're a really large like global corporation, how do you distribute that knowledge across all of your facilities and try to get additive in the places where it's going to make the most impact?

Pete Zelinksi (04:38):

So adoption of additive. So I think I've got two answers to that. And then on the one hand, it's going faster than we might imagine. And on the other hand, it's slow, um, faster than we might imagine in terms of 3D printing being embraced everywhere, it can be embraced as a compliment to your conventional process. Um, I, so I, I work for our additive manufacturing magazine, but as you mentioned, crystal, I also work for a modern machine shop magazine. Um, very short time ago. It was, we had to explain the benefits of having a 3D printer. What can it do for a machine shop? I don't have to explain that anymore. Uh, its role in prototyping in tooling, um, in limited production for, uh, for a conventional manufacturing business, well-established 3D printers in machine jobs, um, in, in injecting injection molding facilities in sites like that is very commonplace, the 3D printing for full scale production. I think in some cases the advance of that is slowed because there are so many different pieces you have to put in place to be able to embrace that. Um, but I think we're, um, Stephanie mentioned the phrase tipping point, and I think that that's just right. Think we're on the cusp of this tipping point, but, uh, plenty of what looked to us today, like conventional manufacturers are waiting for just the right opportunity, just the right new product, for example, but let them embrace additive as their production method.

Stephanie Hendrixson (06:13):

Yeah. I think just to jump off of that, um, this idea of incorporating additive into a traditional manufacturing business, like yeah, it's going to be really disruptive. And so looking for those opportunities, like a new product line or something like that, where you don't have those incumbent processes and, and supply chains in place, like that might be the best way for some of these manufacturers to get into it in the first place.

Kristal Kilgore (06:38):

In the additive space. I think there are a lot of false expectations or misinformation about how effective it is, just press print and you can make anything. Um, so being on the bad side of this coin, um, do you think marketing has done an effective job in advancing additive and maybe where have they done a little bit of a disservice and, um, promoting the technology.

Pete Zelinksi (07:06):

There's this phrase complexity is free and additive. And so that, and that idea is true as far as it goes. It's true. That additive makes it relatively easy in, in a single unattended step to get a really geometrically, intricate part that you couldn't make any other way. Um, but the idea of that complexity is free. I don't know, complexity truthfully is pretty complex and a lot of those really intricate, fascinating parts that we show up that we show off as marketers promoting additive, uh, that is liable to be a part that took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to build effectively that, um, maybe, uh, was characterized by a bill that had, uh, dealt with a lot of internal stresses and they had to figure out they had to do a lot of support structure engineering to figure out, um, how to make that part work. Uh, um, complexity is free. It's true in terms of, there's not necessarily a cycle time cost in the build, but complexity isn't simple and elaborate part still could be, could entail a lot of process engineering to get to a point where you can make that part really well. And, um, uh, have there been instances of glossing over that part of the message? Yeah, I think sometimes.

Stephanie Hendrixson (08:34):

Yeah. So the idea that complexity is free, um, I actually just had a conversation the other week about how, you know, we see these great examples of these complicated parts where you've had, um, maybe he eight, nine, 10, 12 different pieces that used to be machined and assembled together. And now they're just printed in one piece. Um, but you know, those are really difficult scenarios to pull off and maybe we should be thinking a little bit more about like the low-hanging fruit and, um, that can be more of an entry point into additive when you're are looking for more of those simple parts that can benefit. Um, and B just kind of like a fast, easy win versus looking for the most complicated thing that you can do first.

Kristal Kilgore (09:18):

So what do you think the main barrier to adoption is for the technology? Um, there's lots of different ones that are spoken of design knowledge, the range of materials, the reliability of the machines. When do you think that tipping point will come? I mean, I'm sure it's a combination of all of these things, but kind of what do you see as the main factors of that?

Pete Zelinksi (09:40):

Yeah, so I, I actually, I think it speaks to something that Stephanie mentioned earlier. Um, what is the main barrier to adoption? I crystal I actually don't think it's any of the things you listed. It is the existence of a well-established conventional process, uh, in, in reality. Um, even if additive might be the better way to realize a particular end product, if you're already producing that product through a plant, a factory, a facility, a process that is running well, that's, well-established, it's, it's cost prohibitive to keep running that process in parallel with a brand new additive process that you're ramping up and becoming effective at. So additive is gonna find its wins oftentimes where there's a clean slate or a Greenfield where there's just a brand new product or a brand new plant or a brand new idea that's coming to market. And I think as we see the success of that, Stephanie and I, as in our reporting on additive frequently, that's the case, it's simply an altogether new product and, and the manufacturer discovered, yeah, additive presents some real wins here in terms of how we can design this product and how we can produce it.

Stephanie Hendrixson (11:02):

Yeah. I think a lot of the, um, the really successful additive cases that we're seeing are coming from startups, where there is no, um, existing sort of technology that they're using. And so they can just sort of start fresh with additive and the other cases that we're seeing, people who would not have thought of themselves as manufacturers until 3D printing came along. Um, so you're seeing companies that maybe developed a product and would have typically outsourced the production, um, finding that they can now bring it in-house and make it themselves things to additive. And it's the same sort of thing they're starting from a clean slate and they're finding ways into, uh, manufacturing because of additive and not the other way, right.

Pete Zelinksi (11:44):

In, in, in, in polymer that's powerfully. True. Um, and you, you asked about the, the value and the aim of the cool show you have. There are companies that can now be manufacturers because 3D printing contains so much of the production process in a single box, um, that, uh, an inventor though used to have to deal with an external manufacturer and maybe lots of external manufacturers now, the chance to just produce in house, uh, that is game changing. And it's, it's, it's an example of the disruption, attitude is going to bring is, is, uh, changing our sense of what a manufacturer even might be in might look like.

Kristal Kilgore (12:27):

Yeah. And then just a little bit about your guys' personalities, why you love working in this space. I mean, he, you have a manufacturer engineering background. You've worked in the traditional manufacturing space with MMS for a long time now. So what excites you about additive? What is it that you really enjoy about working in this space?

Pete Zelinksi (12:46):

So I love manufacturing and it's, it is, it is a tremendously underappreciated part of, of our society and the lives that all of us have and, uh, manufacturers do important work. Um, a lot of my background and, and what I've reported on over the years has to do with CNC, machining and, and what CNC machining facilities are able to accomplish. Um, and I know that world very well and what I love about additive, what I'm so interested in is just the new possibilities that it brings and the ways that, um, even I get to challenge my own assumptions, like what's really possible in manufacturing and what are the constraints that I never really thought of as constraints? Cause it was just part of the air that every manufacturer breathe. So what are the ways that, um, manufacturing going to change production is going to change. Factories are going to change the kind of products that are manufactured for us are going to change, uh, the, the possibilities of the stuff we see in our world and how it gets to us. Um, there is this, just this big rewriting of the way that our world works, flowing up and out from manufacturing. And like, I feel like we're in a wonderful place and a wonderful moment right now because we're watching the world change and we have seats. We have, we have a view on it where, um, we're going to see stuff unfolding that five years later, all of the rest of the world is going to see, and they're not going to quite know where it came from and we're going to see where it came from and the, and the technology that brought us that, and I'd love to be witnessed to that.

Kristal Kilgore (14:33):

Yeah. And for you, Stephanie, I mean, similar to myself, come from a more journalistic background and then got into the manufacturing world. So what do you enjoy about working in this space and kind of seeing it from that perspective?

Stephanie Hendrixson (14:47):

I come from a writing background and my, um, the degrees are In literature and professional writing. And the thing that I really like about this industry is I like to be able to tell stories that are going to help people do their jobs better. And in the additive space in particular, we get a chance to really kind of be at that cutting edge and see the latest technology that's coming out here, the newest success stories. And, um, you know, I think there's a lot of potential in, in 3D printing technology and being able to help, uh, manufacturers that are beginning to have success, really articulate what it is about their process or, or their business that's different and special. Um, I think is, is potentially pretty powerful, um, with the technology itself. I mean, I think that, uh, 3D printing is one of the most, um, immediately understandable processes that's out there. People are sort of becoming familiar with it because 3D printers are in schools, they're in people's garages, as people have maybe, you know, some direct experience with it. And it has a lot of potential for making consumer products. So like we've seen, um, custom glasses custom in souls. Uh, there's just kind of like a much more direct and immediate association where you can think for it's easy to imagine. Okay. Scanning your foot, scanning your face, scanning some part of your body and having something made custom for you. Um, I think that's pretty exciting. You tell us crystal, I first met you years ago when you were working for a machine tool builder. Correct. Um, what is so interesting to you about this space? What do you love about additive?

Kristal Kilgore (16:26):

Um, it kind of plays into both of your answers. I love this behind the scenes that everybody has things, we all have a car, we all have a table, we all have things, but rarely do people stop to think about how was that made and maybe growing up in Detroit around all the automotive manufacturers, it was just kind of something we were maybe a little bit more aware of. And so when I started my career, it was just really fascinating to get to work in that space and see, this is how things are made. And it's not the old factories where it's just fire and dirt and loud as it progresses, both on the CNC side and on the additive, it's very clean spaces, very, um, digital. And it's just fascinating for me to see this is one part of something that becomes part of a larger assembly becomes part of something that we use in our everyday lives and in day-to-day life, you can just walk by and say, Hey, that may be insignificant to most people, but I know how it's made. I know if, um, colleagues, once we knew a part that was additively made, but it was part of a bracket assembly at an airplane door and we were all traveling for work and we all stop and we're inspecting the door and trying find that bracket just because you know, that background story. And so it's little things like that that make it really fun to work in this space. Yeah. So you guys launched the Cool Parts Show last year and it's really taken a foothold here in the industry. A lot of people love it. You have season two coming up and I'm sure you're planning well beyond that. So where's the show headed? What are you looking forward to?

Stephanie Hendrixson (18:10):

Um, yeah, so season two is coming up. Um, that'll be hopefully out by the end of February this year. Um, we are already starting work on season three. So this is something that we want to keep, keep it going for as long as we can, as long as we can keep finding interesting part. Yeah.

Kristal Kilgore (18:26):

And yeah, we took the opportunity. We have both of you down here at the emerging technology center from Carpenter Additive and Athens, Alabama. Um, we were just giving you guys a tour of the facility, seeing the production, the powder, um, atomizer, all of that. So what are your impressions?

Pete Zelinksi (18:44):

Additive manufacturing is bigger than 3D printing, right? It's such a fundamental point, but it's, um, somehow we think of additive differently than we think of conventional processes. Um, conventional processes, machining molding, there are steps around them and there are support systems around them. And we're figuring out what that looks like with additive and the etc is the most advanced capturing of that. That I've seen it. This is not a 3D printing facility. This is an additive manufacturing facility with all of the steps before and after 3D printing that are necessary to control the PLA process and complete the process under one roof. Uh, that is that striking, um, the workflow that's possible here. And, um, and, and everything that's captured here in the facility. Um, you know, maybe most strikingly how the, a very large hipping furnace here, that's just a part, a natural, organic part of the workflow of this facility. So it's a glimpse of what, um, additive production would look like as far as the resources that are put together in place. Um, but also in terms of the environment that that might produce, um, crystal, you talked about how, like, factories just don't look anymore. The way that we imagine factories are supposed to look and, and the EDC is kind of like a spaceship, um, the ESD flooring, uh, the electrostatic discharge for safety. Yeah. So it's, it's a very, uh, clean floor, for example, it is, uh, it is a spotless glowing facility and that's possible in large part because of the additive process. And how much is controlled, what are your impressions, Stephanie? Um, yes.

Stephanie Hendrixson (20:28):

So I think this is, it's very clearly a production facility. There are 3D printers on the floor, but you've also got the machining machine department. You have the Hibbing furnace, you have heat treat, um, you have, uh, inspection, but to me, I think it was striking the influence of carpenters powder and materials expertise kind of filters through the whole thing. So way back in the back, like there's this huge atomizer where you can put, uh, your metal feedstock in and drop it, melt it down, drop it through, um, fast blowing air and ended up with these droplets and like that's where the whole process starts. And so it's so cool that you can be making your powder in one part of this building, moving it over to the printing facility, um, and making your parts right there on site. And so, um, I, you know, I think there are just like, we saw a lot of different things throughout this building that, yes, it's additive manufacturing, but it's additive manufacturing with kind of like an extra emphasis on the material. And that's so core to, uh, getting the kind of quality and the kind of parts that you want out of the process.

Pete Zelinksi (21:36):

Yes. To all that. So like we came here to see additive, but the atomizers way. Cool. Um, the other spiking thing is, is with additive, what a small footprint, a significant amount of production can, can be squeezed into. So this is a very big facility and there's a lot of open space cause it's been deliberately made with room to expand. And so the result of that is, um, additive machining, um, inspection, uh, he treating hipping, all these stations are so the hipping furnace is huge, but other than that, all these stations are, are very compact, very small amount of floor space. When it gets to the point in the future where this facility is more full of resources, there's like 10 factories worth of production easily. That's going to flow through this relatively small facility.

Kristal Kilgore (22:29):

Thank you guys so much for joining us here today. And we look forward to season two and season three of the cool parts.

Pete Zelinksi (22:37):

Thank you. Thanks so much

Outro (22:39):

Big, thanks to Pete Zelinksi and Stephanie Hendrixson hosts of the Cool Parts Show for taking some time to sit down with us and talk, shop their comments about the wins additive provides and how startups in particular are demonstrating successes, shed some light on where the trajectory of additive manufacturing is that both of them clearly represent the powder head spirit. If you haven't watched the Cool Parts Show, check them out at www.coolpartsshow.com. If you have questions or comments about what we discussed in this podcast to PowderHeads, send them to PowderHeads@CarpenterAdditive.com or visit our podcast page at www.CarpenterAdditive.com/PowderHeads. We’re building an archive of all our interviews there as well as additional material that provides perspective on modern day additive manufacturing. PowderHeads is managed by Carpenter Additive and its parent company Carpenter Technology, a global leader in specialty alloys for over 130 years, our goal is to help customers solve their most challenging material and process problems. Learn more at www.CarpenterTechnology.com. Thanks again for listening and keep building.



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