Mission Viejo, California
Industry: Supply Chain
Products: 3D printing, engineering services, and software
CEO Saeed Paydarfar is leading clients of his engineering solutions provider into the brave new world of additive manufacturing.
As 3D printing evolves, Saratech helps guide manufacturers through the quickly changing landscape of additive manufacturing. "Our services help manufacturers utilize the technology effectively and optimize a manufacturer's investment in the machinery and process," says Paydarfar.
Paydarfar founded Saratech in 2005, after working for Ford Motor Company. "While commuting heavily between California and Michigan, my nine-year-old daughter, Sara, convinced me to give up the commute and stay in California," says Paydarfar. "So, I resigned from Ford -- a great company -- and started the business, naming it after her, Saratech."
It didn't take long for the company to enter into an alliance with Siemens (2006), and it quickly became a platinum software sales partner. Saratech also recently purchased Red Rocks Product Development, a prototyping, scanning, and 3D printing provider in Denver, Colorado and the 3D printer division of the TekPro Group, a provider of 3D printers and hydroforming machinery located in Southern California.
According to Paydarfar, manufacturers are rapidly realizing 3D printing can offer unique and cost-effective solutions to optimizing production, but the landscape can be confusing if engineers are not acquainted with it. "Our goal is to help manufacturers who want to get into additive manufacturing, select the right CAD, CAM, and PLM software, as well as gather all the tools necessary to optimize their investment," he says.
While some manufacturers still only use 3D printing as a method for rapid prototyping, Paydarfar says the perceptions can change once engineers learn what's available and can adapt. "There are several paradigm shifts in this industry that can be confusing for manufacturers," he explains. "One is that this industry is moving towards a CAD model-based design process which fuels how analysis, marketing and everyone else along the production process gets information on a product. Another is a shift towards using the same CAD models to make products faster through engineering optimization, as well as the capability of precision additive manufacturing."
With many forms of 3D printers that allow for a wide range of manufacturing applications, including multi-jet fusion, FDM, and more, Paydarfar says it allows for the capability of manufacturing everything from large objects, to precision printing. "The challenge is that understanding the process is another skillset engineers have to learn. It takes a while to close that knowledge gap," says Paydarfar. "To do that, with Siemens, we have partnered with UC Irvine and the University of Houston so that students can use our HP and Markforged printers to learn the equipment and processes, as well as how to use them effectively."
Challenges: One of the hurdles for manufacturers in incorporating additive manufacturing comes from a lack of understanding of the materials available. "There are always questions on durability and strength of 3D-printed products," says Paydarfar. "Discussions over strength, warranty issues, degradation and more, are what need to be overcome. Initially, there was a limited set of applications and materials. Over time, it has become broader, with new materials containing various properties, including composites. Additive manufacturing will have to overcome those questions, but generally manufacturers need to see it as another tool, one that offers a new modality to make different kinds of products and not necessarily removing traditional manufacturing methods.
He continues, "Increased communication between engineering and manufacturing will help gain knowledge of additive materials, along with the benefits and cost savings. Once there is a clearer understanding of what's available, engineers can call for additive manufacturing and start production that way."
Opportunities: As the technology of additive manufacturing increases, Paydarfar believes it will dramatically change how many products are manufactured. "Manufacturing is getting faster and offers more cost savings," he says. "Early adopters will cash in and know how to use the equipment to remove various processes that will ultimately reduce the cost. The savings can then be passed on to the customer. There are 3D printed products now within the automotive, aerospace, medical device, and consumer product spaces and it will continue to grow. Additive manufacturing is also clean and the ability to reuse materials makes less scrap and byproduct."
Needs: Adoption. "The 3D printer sales and demand are not yet skyrocketing," says Paydarfar. "However, as more manufacturing companies are moving into this space, we will eventually see exponential growth."