3D Printing Completes the Process for Professional Engineer

Patrick Logan is a professional engineer with 33 years experience in manufacturing products from Bicycles to Space Stations. He currently works with small and start-up companies as a consulting engineer, designing products for performance and manufacture. He uses the Afinia 3D Printer to provide clients with a 3D print of their part. His website can be found at www.kridleytech.com.

With over 30 years of manufacturing products under his belt, Patrick Logan is no newcomer to functional 3D design, or even the concept of 3D printing. However, it was only recently that Patrick began 3D printing designs himself, with the help of the Afinia 3D printer. “Currently, I work with small and start-up companies. They come to me with an idea, and I take it, do what I can to improve it, and overall make it manufacturable and cost effective,” explains Logan.

In-house 3D Printing Completed the Process

Before getting the Afinia 3D printer in 2012, Logan would use a 3D printing company to create parts with an SLA printer. “I’d send the design to one company to 3D print it so I could test it,” says Logan. “If it didn’t work, we made adjustments and had it re-printed. When it did work, it then would go through another company to have them make a urethane mold. It was an expensive process, since each step had its own cost associated with it, but it was still less expensive than to simply get a mold that didn’t work.”

At first, Logan seemed speechless when asked how 3D printing affected his job. After a very brief moment, it came to him: “I can’t adequately describe the difference it has made for me in my job. Really, it makes a huge difference. I work with SolidWorks, which I’ve been using since 1997, which allows me to design parts in 3D and test them to see if they fit together. What the printer has done is allow me to take that virtual-something and make it a physical item. And then, not only can I work with it and make adjustments as I see fit, it all takes place within 5 square feet… It’s just my computer and the printer.” Logan claims 3D printing has completed a process that he’s been doing for 20 years, drastically decreasing time and risk. “Now I can take a part, give it to the customer and say ‘this is what it will look like.’ Their reaction is great. There is usually some degree of awe. It just amazes people. Although you get used to it to some degree… the whole idea is that you dream it, and you have it.”

The Afinia 3D printer completes Logan's home office and workflow.
Logan is now able to complete his work all within his home office, and all within arm’s reach.

“Buying the $1,300 Afinia 3D printer was a bit of a risk on my part,” admits Logan, “but a really small price if I think about how it completes my process. The first thing I printed when I got the Afinia was a set of parts I had designed for a client; they tightened together using a fine thread, 20 turns per inch… and I was able to print them out, and they worked! I’ve been very pleased with the quality, and I am excited to see Afinia’s new, bigger printer.”

Experiencing 3D, the Afinia Way

Logan had great things to say about his experience with the Afinia brand. “One of the nice things about the Afinia is that it is simple in a lot of ways. When you purchase it, you aren’t paying for custom cartridges. They’re easy to change – you can even change colors part way through prints. When the Afinia is delivered, it includes everything you need to get started. They really thought about the details… it comes with work gloves, utility knives, tweezers and tools you’d use to separate the part from the support structure and finish it. It was a complete package when it came, which impressed me to no end.”

“With the software, you can rotate your file to any position, change the scale, and so forth. It’s pretty impressive,” adds Logan. “The printer itself has also been working great. I’ve had it for coming up on 3 years, have gone through a number of spools of filament and haven’t broken anything yet.”

A Big Hit For a Good Cause

Logan's rendering of the 3D-printed rocket for the Science Factory's Gala.
Logan’s rendering of the 3D-printed rocket for the Science Factory’s Gala.

Logan is a volunteer for the Science Factory, a children’s science museum in Eugene, Oregon. “A couple of months ago we did a space-themed fundraiser, with guest speaker Teriq Malik, so I drew up a 50s style sci-fi rocket that’s 4 inches tall for a fundraiser with “Science Factory Gala 2015” printed on the side,” says Logan. “I printed over 40 rockets (blue, white, and a few green), which were used for decoration at the tables. When the event ended and everyone left, the rockets disappeared with them! I even had to print out a few more for people who wanted one. It was a fun project and great to see that everyone loved the rockets. My partner may feel differently, though! She was less enthusiastic about my starting up the ‘rocket factory’ at 7 am,” he laughs.

Logan's Plutonian Space Craft design. (Click to enlarge.)
Logan’s Plutonian Space Craft design. (Click to enlarge.)

“I also printed out a Plutonian spacecraft, since one of the routines in the fundraiser was a dance that involved planets. A little girl was dressed as Pluto and kept getting shooed out since Pluto isn’t considered a planet anymore. So I put a disclaimer as a joke on the Plutonian spacecraft: ‘Any dwarf references to planets with tiny solar orbits are not intended. Orbit size is accurate science – The Plutonian Legal Department’. People loved it!”

Logan admits that he wanted to take the printer to the fundraiser, but didn’t have anything to protect it with. “This printer does a lot for me! I wouldn’t want it getting broken.”

Past and Current Projects

Although Logan has been doing mostly bicycle projects recently, he’s also done some automotive and household things. “I’ve worked with CoPoly Tech and Delta Kits, for example. Currently, I’m working for Rivendell Bicycle Works in California, and Day 6 Bicycles in Iowa, as well as GlideCycle. GlideCycle is a very unique bicycle. It’s actually a running bike: a frame that goes overhead that takes the weight off when you run. I’ve helped with some of the pieces that go into the bike, and the 3D printer has helped to show what those pieces will look like, before they are produced.”

“Another interesting project I did was for WDA Systems. The gentleman who run the company has spent a couple of decades as a utility linesman, and wanted to keep squirrels and birds from making nests in utilities. He approached me with a spike ball he had made of Styrofoam with toothpicks. He needed it made out of plastic. I was able to design three parts that, when put together, create the ball.”

Spikeball by Patrick Logan
Spikeball design, by Logan.
Spikeball by Patrick Logan in action
The Spikeball, in action.
The Afinia 3D printer is also used for smaller projects, like the toilet paper clip.
Logan’s toilet paper clip saves the roll from unraveling.

“I was able to test it with a 3D printed version, and then send the final design over to injection molder, with a reasonable degree of security that things would all work. Molds cost something around $30,000, so you want it dialed in by the time you get to that point. I’m able to do that with the Afinia 3D printer.”

“The Afinia 3D printer also allows me to do smaller ‘fix-it’ projects at home. Our house was built in 1946 and has a older toilet paper hanger. When the roll gets used, the hanging section of toilet paper can actually make the rest of the roll unravel. So, I printed out a white plastic clip that is able to press lightly on the roll and keep the paper from unraveling. It’s great that I can use the Afinia for both large projects and simpler projects, alike.”

Words of Wisdom

“There is an old rule of thumb that goes ‘don’t design to your prototyping capability,’” explains Logan. “My goal is to design for lowest cost and best performance, and then figure out how to get it made. This was a big jump for people before, but now you use 3D printing to print it out. It makes a huge difference.”