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  • 26 March 2015
  • Nicole Cox

3D Print Technology Helps Startups Invent the Wheel

Meet Jack Slocum, mechanical engineer and 3D print customer at HoneyComb Corporation. HoneyComb is an Oregon-based startup that is advancing the agricultural industry by developing breakthrough technology focused on drone-based aerial imaging solutions for precision agriculture and forestry.

Please tell me about your company, HoneyComb.
HoneyComb is an Oregon-based company with 15 dedicated employees focused on drone-based aerial imaging solutions for precision agriculture and forestry.

When The UPS Store announced it would be offering 3D printing, the announcement went viral.

How does new technology play a significant role in what you do?
Technology is the enabler for what we do. We use the latest and greatest technology to deliver the highest quality data to our customers.

Can you give us an example of the data you provide to farmers and how that helps guide their decisions?
One set of data we provide to customers is a survey of their field using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). This index gives the customers insight into potential issues with their fields, such as watering, pest, and fungal issues. These would be significantly harder to detect using other methods.

How important is innovation to your business?
It’s the only way for us, really. Nobody has ever done a lot of the things we are doing. Innovation is the lifeblood of this company.

How has 3D print technology allowed you to continue to innovate?
3D printing is genuinely revolutionary. It allows you to prototype at a rate you could never do before. It really is rapid prototyping. We do not have a machine shop built into our business, so 3D printing filled the gap to allow us to iterate fast. You can go from idea to drawing, to concept, to testing and to manufacturing at an incredible rate. It’s so much more effective and efficient. When it comes to our business, there is no other option.

How did you hear about 3D print services at The UPS Store and what are the advantages?
When The UPS Store announced it would be offering 3D printing, the announcement went viral. Our company had been looking for a 3D print location that was convenient and inexpensive. There is a UPS Store three miles away from HoneyComb so this was the perfect solution.

The UPS Store has simplified the 3D print process. Lots of shops have more complex 3D print machines but they are overkill for the majority of simple parts. The UPS Store has just enough options so it’s not daunting. Prints are consistent. It’s cheap and fast and you know what you are going to get.

An advantage to using The UPS Store for 3D Print is there are so many locations to choose from. I can rely on The UPS Store if I’m traveling. If I’m in Idaho working on a project, I can go in a local store and get a print made. If a part breaks, I can replace it.

Why did you choose 3D Print to create your camera and engine mounts versus using other technologies?
I have gone with other 3D print providers in the past but 3D printing for aerospace can be challenging. When I contacted Chip at The UPS Store, I was pleasantly surprised how simplified the process was. I can do two to three iterations of the same design and then send to the manufacturer to get many production parts made quickly and inexpensively. The UPS Store’s 3D printer bridges the gap really well between concept and production.

Any advice for other business owners/entrepreneurs who have never used 3D Print?
Other business owners need to know 3D print is very affordable and it’s not as hard as you think. Soon, people will come to this realization they’ll use it extensively for prototyping. 3D printing is easily accessible to everyone; it is the way of the future.

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