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FAQ


1. Exactly what do you do?

2. Who are you?

3. I’m an inventor looking for prototyping help, how does your process work?

4. What printer options do you have in the office?

5. What type of printers do you sell?

6. Do you sell other things?

7. How do I order your training services?

8. I don’t know the first thing about 3D printing, can you help?

9. 3D printing is cool but it doesn’t seem very practical, how can I use it in my home or business?

10. I’m a teacher interested in 3D printing in the classroom, how do I get started?

11. Are you available for events?

12. Still have questions?


 
1. Exactly what do you do?

Our elevator speech: “at Spectra3D Technologies, we offer services that support the entire 3D printing ecosystem, helping you or your organization acquire the skills and equipment you need to take advantage of the power of 3D printing.”

To break that down a little bit more, here are our three main divisions:

Sales

If you need a printer, we have you covered. Spectra3D offers printers and accessories from several of the top printer manufacturers on the market, including Stratasys, MakerBot, Fusion3, 3D Systems, and more.

Now, we understand that looking at long spec sheets can become overwhelming, especially when you are purchasing your first printer. But don’t worry, that’s where we come in. We can help you break through the hype and analyze your individual needs to help guide you toward the perfect printer for your project and budget.

Design and Prototyping

Do you have an amazing idea that you know is going to make you the big bucks if you could just get started? We work with inventors and entrepreneurs to transform their idea into a tangible part. A real working prototype can make all the difference when searching for investors or discussing production with manufacturers.

Our design services are also a great solution for those nagging problems around the home or office. We’ve helped clients fix up old appliances, design protective gear for their quad copter, and create all sorts of one-of-a-kind products that help make their lives easier.

Training

With so many downloadable prints available on-line, you could realistically get use out of your printer for years to come without ever touching a piece of design software. If you want to really have some fun customizing your pieces, however, it is going to require some basic design skills. Our business started as a training company and it is still our passion. We have three ways to get you up and designing:

Personal Training – Our design experts can come to you, your office, school, maker-space, etc. for hands-on, classroom-style training. Whether you need us to start at the beginning or help provide you with the tools you need to customize a specific project, our live training is fully customizable.

For more about our training services, check out our live training page or contact us to discuss rates for your training session.

Online Training – We love the convenience of online training. If you want to learn all about design in the comfort of your PJs, check out the courses from our friends at CADLearning. The monthly subscription fee gives you access to thousands of helpful videos about the whole slate of Autodesk software programs. With intuitive navigation features, you can start from the beginning or access just the videos you need. The videos are also accompanied by exercise files and assessments so that you can test yourself and make sure you are on the right track. In fact, we like these videos so much, we do all of their production in-house. We also write and capture the 3ds Max, Maya, Mudbox, Autodesk 123D Design, and Fusion 360 courses for CadLearning.

Live Training – We also offer a number of classes throughout town. We have taught an intro to CAD for 3D design class at AB Tech’s main campus in Asheville and we will be offering an intro to 3D printing course at Blue Ridge Community College this spring. Additionally, we are working on putting together some educational workshops, lunch and learns, and seminars in our office, as well as online webinars. Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming sessions!

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2. Who are you?

We are a goofy bunch of educators, artists, gamers, readers, writers, hiking enthusiasts, food lovers, and tech nerds. Sometimes we have a little bit too much fun in the office and our favorite day is Friday because we all go to lunch together at a restaurant that is chosen by our “wheel of lunchiny” (we also like puns, even bad ones!).

Ok, so that may not convince you to hire us, but maybe this will – We also have a combined 50-plus years of experience working with Autodesk products. Our president Steve Schain is a certified instructor for Autodesk AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and Maya, Robert Nipper provides live training in AutoCAD, Carlie Wagner helps teach the live Fusion 360 design classes, and Chris Addy created an online course for Autodesk’s 123D Design.

We have even been working with 3D printing since before it was cool. In fact, Steve had his first part printed way back in 1993.

At Spectra3D Technologies, we pride ourselves on being honest with our customers. If we aren’t happy with one of our printers, we know that you won’t be happy with it either. And since we love it when our customers are happy, we aren’t going to sell you that printer. We will help you carefully weigh the pros and cons of each printer to help you find the one that works for your needs and budget. And after you get that shiny new printer home, we are always a phone call away!

You can also get to know us a little better by checking our our About Us page.

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3. I’m an inventor looking for prototyping help, how does your process work?

We love new and innovative ideas and we get down-right giddy when we get to help inventors and entrepreneurs transform their idea from a spark of creativity to a prototype ready for production.

When working with a new design client, we start with a good old-fashioned consultation. You get to come into our office, check out our beautiful mountain views, shake our hands, and maybe get to see some of our resident turkeys. If you don’t live in the area, we are happy to Skype, email, talk on the phone… whatever your preference. During the consultation, we can discuss your vision, your end goal, and how we can help you bridge that gap. If you have any rudimentary sketches, CAD designs, etc., just bring them along.

After our meeting, we will get to work making your part, keeping you up-to-date on our progress along the way. Once we have a working design printed, you will have the chance to let us know if you want to make any changes or tweaks. This process continues until the design is just what you envision. If you want to test different iterations, we can print multiple versions as well. For projects that require something special, we have a whole crew of engineers on speed dial that love to come in and give us a hand.

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4. What printer options do you have in the office?

We currently have three printers in the office: a MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation, a Fusion F306 dual head, and a Stratasys uPrint SE. These printers were carefully chosen to provide our customers with distinct options.

Stratasys: If you need a print that is done to exacting specifications each and every time, this is the printer for you. With two heads and the ability to print with dissolvable filament, the uPrint is a great option for highly detailed prints or prints with moveable parts.

Fusion3: If you want to be able to experiment with materials, we offer the Fusion F306. With filaments like nylon and polycarbonite, this printer offers tons of flexibility.

MakerBot: Since undergoing a number of firmware updates over the course of the last year, our MakerBot has become an impressive little workhorse. The MakerBot is a great option for prints that don’t require a lot of cleanup or tons of movement.

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5. What type of printers do you sell?

We pride ourselves on offering a highly curated range of printers to fit any project and budget. As we are constantly growing our printer line, the best way to find out about our current printers is to head on over to our store. You can also contact our friendly Sales Director Jon Wise at jonw@spectra3d.com or (828) 490-1303 and he will be happy to help guide you toward a printer that is perfect for you.

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6. Do you sell other things?

Absolutely! We offer a whole range of filaments, scanners, and accessories. Plus, we are always adding more to the lineup. If there is something that will make your prints better, we want to offer it to you. To see our current selection, check out our store. If you have a suggestion about something you think we should carry, let us know.

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7. How do I order your training services?

To discuss our training options, just give us a call at (828) 490-1303 or send us an email. We will be happy to talk about your training needs and help you determine whether live or online training is better for you or your organization. We will also provide you with quotes for various levels of service so that you get just what you need.

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8. I don’t know the first thing about 3D printing, can you help?

Certainly! When we explain printing to somebody who has never seen one before, we compare it to a fancy glue gun. While there are a wide variety of printers on the market that produce parts through a variety of technologies, most of ours use a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. Basically, the printer melts the plastic filament and extrudes it layer by layer until it builds the whole part. To get a better idea of what this looks like, check out this video of a printer in action.

So, there is the tip of the 3D iceberg. If you would like some more in-depth information, we have tons of great resources for you. For a great starting point, try checking out our blog. We also have tons of great resources available for educators, for industry, for hobbyists, and for all printers.

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9. 3D printing is cool but it doesn’t seem very practical, how can I use it in my home or business?

I’m glad you asked. This is actually one of the most common questions that we get. In fact, we have already written a blog post on this topic. You can see it with pictures here, but I will also throw in the answer here…

 

When we bring our 3D printers to an event, we always have a great time meeting new people and talking about the potential of 3D printing. While most people are really excited to see the printers in action, one of the observations we hear most often is, “it’s neat, but I don’t think that I have any use for it,” or “it doesn’t seem very practical.” While I can certainly understand why this is often a first reaction, here is why I truly believe that everybody can benefit from having a 3D printer at home

For beginners

When you skim through the hundreds of thousands of downloadable files available online, you will definitely see a bunch of knick-knacks and things that most homes just don’t need. But you will also find a whole lot of items that are extremely practical. Do you need new organizers for your drawers? How about a wrench for a project? Just download the files and hit print. Not only are these items fully customizable to your own unique space or project, but you also get to avoid a trip to the store.

Some of those knick-knacks are actually really cool. There are some true artists at work on these sites who create beautiful vases that make fantastic centerpieces, one-of-a-kind pencil holders, Thor statues that your little ones are sure to love, and much more. When your kids are bored, you can print out a brand new board game, or open up one of the customizable files and let them have a great time tweaking their own ornament or action figure. If you are in need of a little exercise, you can even download and print a jump rope.

3D printers are an amazing educational tool. At websites like MakerBot’s Curriculum page on Thingiverse, you will find all sorts of downloadable prints that help to get kids super excited about 3D learning. For kids that are squeamish about dissecting animals, download the frog model so that they can see how all of the organs go together without harming any real creatures. You will also find a Saber-Toothed Tiger, a Mars Rover model, and a replica of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Pick up some design skills

While learning to design in 3D software may seem intimidating, trust me, it’s not. If I can learn, anybody can. For a great place to start, check out one of the free online programs like Autodesk 123D Design. With drag and drop shapes and simple editing tools, you can be making models in no time. Bringing your first creation to life truly gives you a feeling of accomplishment. If you don’t want to start from scratch, the program also has plenty of free files that you can download and use as a starting point before customizing the design to suit your needs.

When you are ready to really dive in and learn the programs, check out the online offerings from CADLearning. They have some great deals for students and educators, allowing you to learn programs like Fusion 360, Inventor, and 3ds Max at your own pace.

With a little design knowledge, you can….

  • Fix things around the house. You know that expression, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail? That is definitely how it has been since we received our first printer. Have a problem at home? We can 3D print the solution. To find out more about how we have used our 3D printer around the house, check out our article about replacing a dishwasher wheel or our video about refurbishing a crock pot.
  • Sell your designs. There are tons of resources online, like Shapeways and Turbosquid, to help connect you with the people that want to buy your prints.
  • Start your own business. If you are looking to start your own small business, a printer provides a way to get going with very little overhead. While some people are simply offering to print other people’s designs for a fee, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who are creating their own unique products on a printer. Whether you make jewelry or design custom glasses, a printer is a great way to make one-of-a-kind products.

Whether you are a true beginner or an old pro, 3D printing is a technology that I truly believe everybody can benefit from. Learn more about how you can harness the power of 3D printing in your home by contacting us at Spectra3D Technologies today, or stay up to date on the latest 3D printing innovations by joining our newsletter.

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10. I’m a teacher interested in 3D printing in the classroom, how do I get started?

If you haven’t already, the first step is to sign up for our newsletter and let us know that you are a teacher in the notes section. We send out weekly curriculum tips with project ideas, tips, and tricks for incorporating printing into your classroom.

The second step is to contact our own Jon Wise at jonw@spectra3d.com. As a passionate educator, Jon is devoted to getting printers into classrooms. He has worked with multiple school districts throughout the state to incorporate this exciting technology.

For even more resources, check out our education page.

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11. Are you available for events?

This is one of our newest FAQs but one that we have suddenly been asked relatively frequently. The short answer is that we will happily go anywhere that there is cake. While, honestly, we haven’t done this yet, we are intrigued by the idea and would love to discuss your thoughts with you. People have asked us about everything from store openings, to promotional events, to birthday parties. We could come setup the printer and live print your promotional materials to hand out. We can even throw in a joke or two! One thing is for certain, anywhere we bring a printer, we always attract a crowd.

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 12. Still have questions?

Please contact us or give us a call at (828) 490-1303 and we will be happy to help you out.

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