AaronLouis = Always Making Things Better
3D Print. Milling. Plasma Cutting and So Much More!
In the ever growing additive manufacturing market, it seems like a new 3D printing process or material is announced every other day, almost making you numb to the innovation, much less excited about it. Interested in something different and new? Aaron Louis Tech is now offering a machine that includes an all-metal, high-temperature extruder and hot bed that is capable of printing advanced thermoplastics, such as fiber-reinforced PEEK and PEI (tradename Ultem). Why does this matter? Well, let us count the ways….
Data Source: Endura
Materials such as PEEK and PEI fall into the category of semi-crystalline thermoplastics, which result in properties that are incredibly useful in the real world. PEEK offers unrivaled chemical and UV resistance, high working temperature range, and high strength. This makes it a go-to for industries like aerospace, medical, oil/gas, and automotive. PEI offers these characteristics, plus it does not produce smoke when exposed to a flame, making it ideal for aerospace applications, in which you may find yourself in an enclosed area. PEEK is also one of the few plastics that offers biocompatibility, making it very attractive to the medical industry for implants.
Data Source: Endura
With such desirable material properties, PEEK and PEI were obvious choices when designers began creating functional end-use parts. As the printing process itself was advanced further, some truly astounding material strengths have been achieved. According to an article on Engineering.com from 2016, Silicon Valley’s Arevo Labs was able to produce PEEK parts “with the strength of titanium at one-third the weight.” This is a realm of strength most people had never dreamed of for a plastic. With such chemical resistance, Arevo Labs was also able to make 3D-printed fuel intake runners for engines from PEEK, providing just a glimpse of possible applications in the automotive and oil/gas industries.
You can see the incredible characteristics of PEEK and PEI, and how some innovative companies are finding more and more practical applications, but you still may be wondering how YOU can get your hands on this innovative material. Well, that’s where things start to get tricky. As of right now, there are very few 3D printers on the market that are capable of reaching the close to 400C temperature necessary for extrusion. That is one of the unique features of the high temperature, all metal, dual extruder found our 3D printers, specifically the CL1720HT and OL1720HT. If you are interested in designing and fabricating the next innovative application of advanced thermoplastics, drop by our Kickstarter page and check out other components our printers have to offer.
We are entering our second week of our Kickstarter campaign, and have gained 23 backers already! Along the way we have also had several 3D printing websites feature an article on our campaign. We are very appreciative for them to write these articles and wanted to share them if you haven’t seen them already.
If you haven’t seen our innovative closed loop 3D printer Kickstarter page check it out!
Why invest in Aaron Louis?
A common question that comes up with any Kickstarter campaign is: Why should I give you my money? This is a perfectly legitimate concern, and probably something you should be asking yourself before backing any Kickstarter. So, in order to offer more insight into who we are, we wanted to provide some background information about ourselves.
Nick Lanham currently works as an operations research analyst supporting the federal government, which he has supported for the past eight years. This job involves cost analysis, project management, and outsourcing relations. Lanham has an MBA, and offers business insights specifically for planning a project and maintaining the schedule. David Edelen has a BS in mechanical engineering and recently respectfully declined a doctoral scholarship offer from the University of Maryland to continue developing and expanding additive manufacturing techniques. Over the past three years, the duo has collectively researched advanced printing techniques and has been building and testing their own printers. One of the biggest lessons they have learned is that the focus should be on one specific topic, rather than the whole system.
In order to for us to get some experience under our belts, we designed, manufactured, and sold an all-aluminum upgrade kit for existing 3D printers. This kit uses many of the same core components, such as extruded aluminum and aluminum sheet metal, so that we could gain experience in the manufacturing processes associated with them. It also gave us insights on possible logistical issues associated with bulk material orders. In addition, the sale of these kits allowed us to establish some routes with several third-party sellers, as well as develop the backend for our own website. We were able to sell an average of two kits per week across the United States, and even as far as Australia, providing a strong proof of concept.
Unfortunately, there has been a gray cloud over 3D printing companies launching on crowdfunding websites. Recently, in an article written by 3Dprinting.com, the company Tiko was able to raise a very successful $2.9M of their $100k goal with their month-long Kickstarter campaign, providing a valuable case study. So what went wrong?
This campaign could be the perfect example of how bigger is not always better. The failure of this launch can be attributed to several key factors. According to the article, on the Kickstarter page of the fresh company:
“didn’t discuss any risks in developing firmware, getting custom electronics to work or 3D printing at all. They didn’t see any potential assembly or integration risk. They wanted to develop their own slicing software from scratch and didn’t see any risks that could potentially derail that. They didn’t perceive any risk on not using fans and did not see any design risk at all. They just said, “you can sit back and relax—with Tiko, you’re going to get everything you hoped for and then some!”
This is a pretty ambitious list of deliverables, even for the most experienced team, considering many of the finer points are handled by a whole company itself, let alone one company, seeming to want to be innovative in every aspect of the 3D printing process. So, with such a large amount of capital raised, where did things start to go wrong? The company projected shipment of their printer in November 2015, a reasonable seven months after the campaign ended. However, the first units were not shipped until July 2016, a whole eight months past the original shipping date estimation. It’s common knowledge that 3D printers are extremely complicated machines, considering that you may pass your delivery date by a small margin. But, to surpass your estimation by the length of your estimation and then some is certainly not an attractive offering.
So why was the timeline missed so badly? Well according to the article, the company claimed that they ran into unplanned problems because “some of their prototype parts won’t translate properly into production. Not because of design flaws, moreso because of tolerances.” This indicates a lack of experience and a bold assumption that the original design will not only be perfectly reproduced, but also that the original design is the superior configuration.
The company also began by stating that they would be relying on sourced manufactures, and only after blowing through their deadlines, announced that they would be opening their own factory, where they would be producing 10K units per month. This seems like yet more blind ambition and a less grounded plan.
The list of mistakes continues, including a lack of regular updates, lashing out at negative comments, and even announcing laying off the majority of their staff. Ouch! Ultimately, the story ends with the company shutting down and never completely delivering printers to all of their backers. Now that you have heard a horror story, how do we expect to be any more successful? To answer this question, we look back to the backgrounds of the founders of Aaron Louis Tech, and the product plan. Although we offer an incredibly innovative closed loop 3D printer, it still relies on open source software and third-party materials to operate. Why? Because there is no reason to redo something that isn’t broken. Our focus is on providing the platform to develop better and more advanced, functional applications of 3D printing, not to create yet another slicing program.
If you like what we have to offer, consider checking out our Kickstarter campaign: