RE: a story

From: Mark Wynn (
Date: Mon Jun 03 2002 - 18:37:25 EEST

I have often wondered... as much as 3D Systems makes on service contracts why they haven't, or the user community hasn't demanded that they... invest in diagnostic equipment for SLA components. This would allow the FE's to verify a component is actually bad before replacing it... and help diagnose the problem in a reasonable time frame. This should ultimately prevent these long machine down times, I would think. In all of Yazaki's experiences it would have!
In many other industries (i.e. automotive) this is standard. If you pulled your car into the dealer and asked him to fix your car and they stated that they didn't know how long your car would be down for or how much it would cost... you would be outraged. Especially if their final conclusion was that the problem had to be the different brand tires that you had put on your car.
I would think that eliminating this machine down time would please Bruce, Jim, Elaine, and many of us who have experienced similar problems. I would also imagine that it would save money in the long term for 3D because they wouldn't have the costs associated with:

1. Replacing components that are not broken
2. The extra manpower caused by field service engineers spending days/weeks/ months... guessing/testing for problems instead of fixing them.
3. Repeated travel of the FE to and from the users site
4. Shipping of those good components that do not need to be replaced
5. Administration (paper work, stocking, inventory, etc.)

If this really is a cost saver... maybe, just maybe... they could pass this cost savings back to the users through lower priced service contracts. As a result maybe they could increase their service base by gaining back some of their old customers that have long stopped using their services due to problems of this type.

Now I realize that there will be an initial cost for diagnostic equipment, research and development to create some of this diagnostic equipment, training for the FE's, maintenance, calibration, etc. But I would still think that this cost could be recovered over a reasonable period time!?
This is not to say that every FE would have to have their own set of diagnostic tools for every subsystem... but the regional / satellite offices could have 1 or 2 sets of these tools. Then if an FE needed them for a certain problem, they could use them... and return them the next day so another FE could use them at a different customer site.

With all that said I will be the first to admit I am not a business guru. I would imagine that their is a fundamental flaw to why this hasn't happened yet. Would any one care to elaborate on this?

Is this a solution, a bad plan, or a pipe dream?

>>> "JP Harrison" <> 05/31/02 01:03PM >>>
Thank you for publishing your story. I have been fighting this problem for
10 years! 3D Systems wants to start replacing components until the problem
is fixed. If that doesn't work then they blame the resin or they blame the

Bruce's frustration is not new. We have all discussed it at the
SLA User's conference and nothing changes. We bought a new SLA500 in 1996
to start our company. It was one of the last 500's built and yet it took 3D
6 months to get it to build good parts consistently. I would get calls at
3am in the morning from the FE's working on it. Thinking back, I don't know
how we survived that.

I tried unsuccessfully to put together a maintenance trouble shooting guide
when I worked for Coulter. Someone from 3D Systems called my boss and that
ended that! At the same time Chris Brewis said he would put together a
troubleshooting guide, which is in the back of the SLA buildstation manual.
The guide only covers the very basic information.

Thanks to all that have responded on the RPML. This medium has saved my a--
more times than I can count!

Thanks again,

James P. Harrison
Director Of Operations
3Dimensional Engineering
2991 N. Powerline Rd.
Pompano Beach, FL. 33069
Phone: 954-972-9906 <>

-----Original Message-----
From: []On
Behalf Of Bruce E. LeMaster
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 8:40 AM
To: 'David K. Leigh'; 'Bruce Okkema'; 'RPML'
Subject: RE: a story


I think you missed the underlying anger in Bruce O.'s message about his
machines being down. What do you do when your lively hood is essentially
held hostage by the manufacturer of your equipment? You (in this case Eagle
Design) pay large sums of money for a maintenance agreement and then you are
told that there are not enough calibration plates available to come in and
re-calibrate your machines that are not operating properly. Which, by the
way, were operating just fine before the manufacturer replaced a sensor that
was a "potential" problem.

What I think Bruce O. was getting at is that all of you out there in rp land
who are purchasing or planning to purchase new equipment need to consider
the maintenance and upkeep on your machines a little more closely. What
does it really cost you in down time when you have to wait three days (or
longer) for a service call? What about the fact that the manufacturer of
the equipment will not provide any schematics or the calibration plates for
you to do your own trouble shooting / repairs. How much extra are you
paying because your field service person is trained to swap out components
only at their highest level (i.e. charge you for a new laser diode when in
reality you only need a small $250 power supply that goes inside the bigger
diode supply)???

If users continue to purchase new machines without demanding more options
related to maintenance and upkeep (i.e. cal plates, more open access to
build station for doing diagnostics and general maintenance, schematics,
etc) the manufacture will never be inclined to change their practices.

Look at it this way. When you buy a new car you know that you can always go
back to the dealer for service. However, you have every right to go to you
neighborhood garage and have them service you vehicle. They have access to
repair manuals, specialized diagnostic equipment, and parts. If your not
happy with the dealer you have options! For most of us in the rapid
prototyping industry we do not have those same options and you will never
get them if you don't start making a stand (your $$$$$$'s).

Sorry for the ramblings. I just felt it necessary to expand on Bruce O.'s
message having seen the impact upon them during last week when they were
fighting through this problem.


Bruce E. LeMaster

Applied Rapid Technologies Corporation
265 Cambridge Street, Suite 100
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22405
(540)371-1100 / (540)371-4100 fax

-----Original Message-----
From: []On
Behalf Of David K. Leigh
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 1:18 PM
To: Bruce Okkema; RPML
Subject: Re: a story

I love good stories. We have a protagonist, an antagonist. . . a little
mystery. A climax. . . and best of all. . .

a happy ending.

er, I guess it's a happy ending.

David K. Leigh ph (254) 933-1000
Harvest Technologies, Inc. fax (254) 298-0125
Rapid Prototyping Services

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Okkema" <>
To: "RPML" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 10:48 AM
Subject: a story


We have a forum here that allows for sharing of information and experiences.
It is becoming more evident, that as a relatively small RP community we will
succeed together or fail together, so it is important to share our stories.
The competition factor which would tend to discourage open discussion seems
to be less important than promoting our technologies and capabilities as a
community - we need to help each other show the engineering, medical, and
management communities that we have solid solutions to problem solving - and
that these solutions are not magical or mysterious.

It is with the intention of trying to save some of you some grief that I
share this story. There probably will be several possible conclusions one
could draw, but I prefer to only tell you what happened in our situation so
you will be better prepared to act if you experience a similar situation.

We have two SLA 7000's, both one year old in perfect condition. We use
Vanitco 7540, 7545, and 7510 resins and have not had any problems whatsoever
up until 2 weeks ago. We and our customers love the quality of our parts.
We are on full maintenance programs with our vendors.

A field engineer called on a Friday to ask if our machines would be
available the following Tuesday for 2 hours to change sensor #2 on both
machines. We told him that we could make them available. He came and did
the change and we built some small test parts successfully and he left.

We loaded up the machines with large parts and large builds and they began
consistently failing. We could not build parts on either machine with
either resin, with any of our vats. We suggested a machine recalibration,
but since the vendor no longer supplies calibration plates with the machine,
we were told there was not one readily available - but this was surely not
the problem anyway. He said, "we would be getting other error messages if
the calibration was off." We put in another call for service and the FE's
came back for 2 days going through everything on the machines trying to
find the problems. They were on the phone almost continually, but finally
they left saying everything were perfect on the machines, it must be a resin

Next we had the resin vendor here off/on for a few days; we switched vats,
we switched material types, still we could not build successfully - "it must
be a machine problem". Finally we insisted that the machine vendor
recalibrate both machines. This was done the following day (it took about 4
hours to calibrate the two machines). Now after 2 weeks and tens of
thousands of dollars in lost income, we are building beautiful parts again,
using the same resin as before.

Hopefully, the sharing this story will help some of you make better
decisions that we did.

Bruce Okkema, President
Eagle Design & Technology, Inc.
55 E. Roosevelt, Zeeland, MI 49464
Ph: 616-748-1022x101 Fx: 616-748-0083
Cell: 616-836-2224
<> <>

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