2020 started out like all the others, a flurry of activity at the office and in the shop, Paul headed off to present again at Solidworks world.
We also made the leap and purchased an additional material to run on our MJF machine, TPU rubber! This was specifically to try and break into the market for class A safe nesting for our machine build / automation customers.
In April we were running at full steam ahead when we all started hearing news coming out of China about some kind of flu.
One of our 3DP techs had been living in mainland China in 2019 and was showing us videos on Chinese social media of the government welding doors shut on apartment buildings, we all figured they were just overreacting……
By early March the world was starting to shut down due to COVID and both the engineering and 3D printing businesses came to a screeching, crashing, fiery stop. Paul spent a few sleepless weeks trying to find something to keep the business going as the Engineers set up home offices and the F3DP team got used to doing temperature checks at the front door and sanitizing their hands 100 times a day.
By mid-March there was a call from a current F3DP machine build customer who had pivoted his business to making hand sanitizer dispenser systems. He had gotten a call from Amazon asking how fast he could build 20,000 of his units for use in their fulfillment centers. F3DP went from having no work to unlimited work with one phone call. We ran 24/7 until the customer got his expedited injection mold tooling done 1 month later. At that point the world’s supply chains had been brought to their knees and the USA domestic 3DP industry had a boom unlike anything it had ever seen in its short history. The MJF machine ran 7 days a week for the rest of the year.
We had been getting requests from our 3DP customers ever since we added the MJF machine for more color options. After a bunch of experimentation we decided to go with Cerakote, 2 of our team members went out for Training and upon their return we added it to our service offering to much excitement by our customers.
We also added a Girbau DY130 system for applying black dye more consistently to MJF parts after printing.
With the world being closed up around us for the rest of the year we still found ways to go out and have fun. For example, paintball is a inherently socially distant game! We had to have another small-scale Christmas party, but something was better than nothing.