On April 9th, Kosmo Machine held a Lunch and Learn Seminar on “The Shape of Things: 3D Printing in Manufacturing” for customers and others interested in learning more about the advanced technology. The event drew over 50 individuals from a variety of manufacturing industries.

“We had recently purchased our first 3D printer, and thought an educational seminar was a good opportunity to help customers learn more about what’s happening in the industry,” said CFO Bill Wheeler, noting that Kosmo purchased the Markforged Mark Two 3D Printer in September 2018.

Seminar speakersAt the seminar, Melissa Ragsdale, CEO for 3DOLOGiE, an Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based consultant who specializes in 3D hardware solutions, spoke about the challenges, risks and solutions of 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing. Both terms refer to the process of building parts by joining material layer by layer from a CAD file. Lishan Mu, an application engineer with Markforged, also took part in the seminar.

Participants watched demonstrations of the Mark Two desktop as well as the Markforged X7 industrial printer and had the opportunity to examine sample parts manufactured on these printers from carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass.

Also on display were 17/4 PH stainless steel products created on the new Markforged Metal X. According to Ragsdale, seven other materials, including titanium and aluminum, will soon be available for printing through the system.

“In the past, materials have been a limiting factor, but that’s definitely a changing landscape. We’re seeing more materials available on the marketplace and that’s why this is a great time for manufacturers to utilize 3D printers,” said Ragsdale.

Melissa Ragsdale speakingShe noted there are some misconceptions about 3D printers, such as the idea that they can create only one object at a time. Some systems can print several parts simultaneously, including “functional assemblies, which are made up of multiple components designed to work together,” she said.

Another myth is that the printers can only be used to create prototypes. To help participants see other possibilities, she gave what she termed a “factory floor walk.” “I tried to show all the areas where a 3D printer can be used in a typical facility,” she said. For instance, the printers can be used to redesign and manufacture of parts and end use components and for quality checks.

The seminar concluded with a question and answer session, where participants could ask questions about using 3D printing for their specific manufacturing needs.

“I think the participants learned something and walked away with some good information,” said Wheeler. He felt the in-person, hands-on approach was helpful to the group. “We had attended two webinars [by other 3D printing companies] and found them to be very confusing. They gave very few answers,” he said.

Lishan Mu demonstratingThen, he met with Ragsdale in person. “When she came to talk to us, she was able to show us how 3D printing could help our business, and she provided some clear examples. She had samples with her, and it made sense.”

Kosmo has already manufactured some parts on its new printer for customers. While the printers are slow—it can take 24-48 hours to print a part—“if you program it properly, you can just walk away from it and let it print overnight. You don’t have to tie up any workers to watch it,” he said. “From a dollar standpoint, we spent less money on the material and obviously less money on labor”—ultimately leading to greater savings for customers.

The company plans to offer more Lunch and Learn events in the future. “We will be bringing in experts to address topics that affect manufacturing, from an advanced technology standpoint,” he added.

Established in 1976, Kosmo Machine Inc. is a Sandston, Virginia-based, employee-owned business devoted to quality production and superior customer service. The full-service precision machine shop specializes in CNC milling and turning, EDM machining, and custom welding processes. Quality certifications include ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D. The company’s 99.9% customer acceptance rate, and historically maintained 95% on-time delivery rate are well respected in the industry.