The RAPID Show 2016 Report

Posted by Dana Seero on Mon, Jun 06, 2016 @ 09:15 AM

rapid-logo-100.pngSME’s RAPID trade show has become the primary event at which 3D printer manufacturers and suppliers, along with ancillary equipment like 3D scanners, to announce and demonstrate their new products. Conference sessions educate both new and experienced users on the latest technology and techniques.

Stratasys and others demonstrated new systems and technologies and two much-anticipated products were demonstrated or shown to the public for the first time: the XJet metal printer, and HP’s Multi Jet Fusion system.

Xjet was founded by the founders of Objet. After consulting to industry for a number of years, they have introduced the Nano Particle Jetting system. Extremely small (one to two orders of magnitude smaller than SLS or other powder technologies) metal particles suspended in a liquid ink are deposited via a print head. The build chamber is heated, so the liquid component quickly evaporates. Then a heating element passes over the print bead, fusing the metal particles together. Upon completion, the part is placed in a furnace to complete fusion [for most alloys]. Primary focus is currently stainless steel but a wide range of metal powders is anticipated.

There are a number advantages of this approach. First, the metal particles come in sealed containers, eliminating risk of inhalation or flame. Second, there is no need for the type of inert gasses used to prevent sparks or flame in other metal processes (which might be more aptly called 3D welding) and different agents can be used to facilitate removal of the part from the print bed.

After more than two years of announcements, Hewlett Packard demonstrated the first model in their Multi Jet Fusion system and gave briefings on the technology. This system is aimed at manufacturing applications, especially parts currently being made by the SLS [Selective Laser Sintering] process. 

The first systems to be introduced uses black Polyamide 12 (like Nylon 12) powder, though other materials and colors are expected. The system deposits a layer of powder from a 13KG (28.6 lb) material cartridge in a heated build chamber, which is at an elevated temperature below the melting point. The print head passes over the bed and deposits jetting agents to define the edges and interior of the part. The jetting agents make the material more receptive to light energy, so when the bed is irradiated, the areas covered by the jetting agent fuse together. Another layer of powder is applied and the process repeats itself.

This process has many advantages compared to SLS, the process used for many production-printed parts today. Unlike SLS, each layer is “cured” or irradiated at once, rather than by the steered laser beam(s).  Powder reuse is said to be much higher than SLS. 

HP has made claims that this technology is 10 to 50 times faster than other processes, but this is their measure of build time, not total process time. Like other powder systems, the entire “loaf” must be removed from the system and the 25+ lbs of material allowed to cool to room temperature. Then the loose powder must be vacuumed and parts removed. The HP 4200 system has an optional post-processing system that accelerates cooling, which is otherwise as much as five times longer than build time. 

The systems have a base price of $130,000. They are expected to have the most impact on the two primary manufacturers of SLS units, 3D Systems and EOS.

The conference schedule this year reflected the growth in 3D printed production parts. There were seminars on the business case for 3D printer use; regulatory acceptance for 3D printed medical products; current and future applications for direct metal printing; use of 3D printed patterns for different types of metal casting; and use of 3D printed parts to decrease supply chain costs for replacement parts.

Over 250 exhibitors displayed their products. There were over 100 3D printer manufacturers and dealers, from the largest (Stratasys) to many startup desktop printers, (mostly FFF, the public domain version of Stratasys FDM). This is the primary exhibit opportunity for metal 3D printer manufacturers to display their products.


Top Six Advanced 3D Printing Metal Insert Techniques

Top Six ADvanced 3D Printing Metal Insert Techniques

Learn how to insert captured bearings & sprockets, captured bushings & hex-nuts, roller chains, mesh filters, carbon fiber rods, & even other 3D printed parts into your 3D models.

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Topics: Stratasys, 3D Printing, Rapid Trade Show 2016, HP

Stratasys Q1 2016 Results

Posted by Dana Seero on Wed, May 25, 2016 @ 09:47 AM

Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) announced their first quarter results several weeks ago. The results reflect the company’s ongoing recovery from the weak market conditions of 2015.

Although up from Q4 2015, the Stratasys MakerBot unit declined 23% in system/services revenue compared to Q1 2015. This resulted in an overall decrease in Q1 revenue of 3% to $167.9 million. Overall product revenue decreased 6% to $118.6 million, while system revenue was down 14%. Consumable sales were up 6%, reflecting increasing use of the systems. Non-GAAP operating income recovered to $4.0 million, reflecting the company’s return to profitability after a brutal 2015.

Total unit sales were 5,125 across all product lines, with the company having sold 151,149 systems in total. 58% of sales were in the North American market, up from 56% last year.

Stratasys performance looks good in comparison to another publically-traded 3D printer company, 3D Systems (NASDAQ:DDD). DDD’s revenue declined 5% to $152.6 million, with an operating loss of $16.8 million. Printer revenue declined 24%, or 17% excluding “Consumer printers.”

Take a deeper look at the two companies via Yahoo Finance:

Topics: Stratasys, Results, 2016, Q1

3D Printing's On-Going Revolution In The Product Development Process

Posted by Dana Seero on Tue, May 03, 2016 @ 03:44 PM

Prior to the availability of 3D printing, product development in general, and plastic product development in particular, relied on hand-made prototypes produced by skilled model and pattern makers. CNC machining reduced lead time for some parts and some projects, but it was still a craft process.

The initial phase of 3D printer development had a significant effect on use of prototypes in the product development process. Since the invention of the technology in the late 1980’s, most project managers budgeted in 3D printed prototypes. These parts were usually provided by external job shops, and the cost and lead time associated with procuring those parts generally limited the budget and lead time to a single iteration.

The next phase in the development of 3D printing for product development use came with the availability of faster, less-expensive machines producing stronger parts beginning around 2004. The availability of systems for less than $50,000 broadened use. With a machine in-house, the design development process could begin accommodating a second or third round of prototype development. This allowed designers to begin limited functional testing and final design development before tooling.

Solid modeling made photo-realistic images of new designs readily available at the same time. As machines became more capable and available, product developers proceeded to the next stage: developing market-ready prototypes for customer approval before committing to production tooling. Developers of products like LCD projectors, hand-held medical devices, and others could create highly realistic, functional prototypes for customer approval and market size estimates before committing to any tooling at all.

Once the fundamental patents for Fused Deposition Technology (FDM) and Stereolithography expired, inexpensive desktop 3D printers became feasible. Originally sold as kits, MakerBot and others began selling complete systems. Today, the “desktop” market is defined by Wohlers as systems selling for less than $5,000.

The inexpensive desktop machines have some significant limitations. First, process control is not good enough for production-level accuracy. Second, the larger the part the more difficult it is to complete a build. Finally, most require a significant amount of user labor to set up, run the part, and remove support material.

But these machines have the benefit of being very inexpensive to run; the material used on these printers, PLA, is about half the cost of ABS.

Depending on the product requirements, developers are now “prototyping the prototype” by producing early models on desktop machines. For ergonomic testing, review by non-technical managers, and proof of concept, these models have “good enough” accuracy, fidelity, and strength. Using this level of 3D printer in the earliest stages of design minimizes the risk of prototype print failures, as the more complex designs are later printed on production-grade machines. 

This is just another step in 3D printing's on-going revolution in the product developent process, one that will continue to evolve as the technology rapidly does. 

MakerBot Replicator Z18 & uPrint SE: Their Role In Manufacturing

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Explore the Replicator Z18 & the uPrint SE 3D printers & how they're being used in manufacturing. Watch to see how these two printers standup against repeatability, complex geometry, & reliability testing. 

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Topics: Stratasys, CAPINC, MakerBot, Maker, 3D Printer, Additive Manufacturing, Stereolithography, FDM, 3D Printing, Product Development, Consumer Goods, uPrint

Charger Wars: Product Reviews to Help Expand Your Electrical Outlet Real Estate

Posted by Dana Seero on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

With two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son, we have been playing a new game in our house: “musical chargers.”  Phones, tablets, earpieces, video cameras: they all need a charger and electrical outlet real estate. There had to be a better way.

describe the imageWell, there is! The Wiremold® USB/Multi-Outlet Charging Station plugs into a conventional outlet and gives you three outlets, four USB ports, and a surround to help manage the cables. Widely available at local stores and online for less than $20. We now have five. Great product!

If you have a recent iPhone or tablet, they come with a Lightning cable. They aren’t very long and in my experience have not proven very durable. Between co-workers and family, we tried a number of aftermarket cables. Some didn’t prove entirely compatible, some didn’t last much longer, and they all seemed to be a foot too short!

I’ve had good success with the six foot AmazonBasics Apple-certified cables. The connectors are larger than the stock connectors and may interfere with some cases. But I’ve been using them for more than a year at home, office and car and they’ve held up well.

Speaking of car charging, I also did a modestly extensive test of accessory plug chargers. I was looking for one with two plugs, and full output charging for each: I wanted to be able to charger an iPad while using GPS.

The Belkin 2 port car charger puts out 2.1 amps per USB port and is available with Lightning or Micro USB cables. $15 to $25, depending on what you get for cables. Also widely available online and in stores.

Finally, if you need a really portable automotive jump starter that can double as a cell phone or laptop charger, check out the MicroStart XP1 or the EarthX Jump Pack. These products weigh one pound or less, can jump start any car and even some diesel trucks, charge your cell phone and laptop, and are airline-safe. The EarthX product uses  LiFeP04 battery chemistry.

I first started using the MicroStart over a year ago as an emergency backup while motorcycle camping. Most modern bikes have fuel injection, won’t easily bump-start, and are not designed to start in low temps. It saved us several times as well as proving useful as a portable phone charger. Last winter we left it in the car and it started three in succession. Then I took it on a cross-country plane flight and was able to run my laptop the entire flight. This winter I’ll be taking it snowmobiling for sure! Different models available from $100 to $150.


New Fortus Production Systems eBook

Topics: CAPINC, Charger Wars, Product Review, Wiremold, MicroStart

CAPINC's 25th Anniversary - Part 2

Posted by Dana Seero on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 01:46 PM

On September 8th we celebrated our 25th anniversary here at Computer-Aided Products. In my most recent post, I spent some time thinking about the forces shaped the company into what it is today. This is a continuation of the journey CAPINC has been on. 

So, what shaped the company from the early days to now? There were two especially important factors. The first was almost getting fired! The second was my Army experience.

My first job was in the R&D group of an automotive OEM plastic parts producer.  This gave me an excellent grounding in plastic product design and development. I moved on to an office machine manufacturer. Over time I was put in charge of the development of many of the plastic parts for an office machine, including working with the Industrial Designer, molders, moldmakers, etc. 

With a major trade show coming up, we commissioned an industrial model shop to make a show model of the exterior package of the new machine. Prints were late from the Industrial Designer, changes were required by engineering, and the shop was heavily booked. As the critical trade show date approached, we still had no model! It finally got to the point where the R&D Director told me very pointedly that if the model was not ready in time for the show, I would be fired.

The shop did come through and built a very nice model, albeit with only a couple of anxious hours to spare before the deadline. While I escaped being fired, this was what we jokingly called in the Army a “Non-Career Enhancing Event.” Along with many others I was laid off a few months later.

This experience left a very strong impression on me. I resolved that if I ever worked for a supplier, I would make sure that the people who hired us got promoted. It is important to think about how suppliers can help their customers become more competitive all day, every day.

My Army experience and training was valuable in too many ways to count. But compared to purely civilian-trained managers, probably the most important skill I learned was the difference between “managing” and “micro-managing.” If you have an entire Cavalry platoon that is in in contact only by radio, you must not only have confidence in their training and equipment, but must have given clear orders on what mission is to be accomplished. 

Many businesses have lengthy “Mission Statements.” I’m in the habit of asking people at these companies, “Do you know what your company’s mission is?” Very, very few folks have ever been able to answer the question.

So at CAPINC, I made the mission statement so simple that everyone can remember it, always.

“Improve Engineering Productivity.”

 Call to Action   TriFlex and Rigid Color whitepaper resized 600

Topics: Stratasys, CAPINC, 25th Anniversary, CAD, VAR, Value Added Reseller, 3D Printing, SolidWorks

CAPINC's 25th Anniversary - Part 1

Posted by Dana Seero on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 @ 01:22 PM

On September 8th we celebrated our 25th anniversary here at Computer-Aided Products. I spent some time thinking about what forces shaped the company into what it is today.

After working for four years as an engineer and four years in the Army, starting in 1985 I spent four years at an industrial model shop. At that time most products were still designed in 2D – not always with CAD – and prototypes were machined and fabricated largely by hand. We made some halting steps to modernize, including, eventually, a three axis milling machine and CAM software.

One day in 1988 I got a call from the model shop manager at Polaroid. “Have you heard of a new process?” he asked, “Where they shine a laser on a liquid to make models?” I had not.

In those pre-internet days information about new technology was not easy to come by. Eventually I found an article in the library about this new technology called “Stereolithography.” It so happened that the company had a sales office in Nashua, NH so we had a demonstration.

While novel, the early machines were expensive, slow, and had very limited material properties. But the biggest barrier to introduction was the lack of 3D solid models, or 3D models of any sort. As a job shop, we would be faced with having to create models, and it wasn’t clear customers would pay for them.

But automation of the entire product development process seemed to have a lot of potential. This led to a six month stint as a consultant for a company developing a competing rapid prototyping technology. But when they ran out of funding, there wasn’t enough business in this infant field to sustain a living.

I started surveying people I knew in industry about other technology opportunities. One of them, Rick Quinn, suggested I find a PC-based 3D CAD system. At the time most companies were using 2D CAD, and most were on UNIX workstations.  

More surveys of customers gave this idea momentum, and I knew just the system to pick. Although AutoCAD had huge market share in the 2D PC CAD market, they didn’t have 3D. But a year or two earlier I’d purchased my own license of CADKEY to learn 3D modeling.

Manchester, CT-based CADKEY had developed a capable 3D wireframe modeler that ran well on PC’s. In the days of DOS memory limitations this was no trivial achievement. And it so happened that one of the local dealers was leaving the business. The area sales manager was happy to sign me up, even though there were already six dealers in the area and little marketing support: technology providers are inclined to believe that more dealers will automatically bring more sales.

Like most small business startups, the company was “bootstrapped.” I began operations in a spare bedroom with $7,000 in cashed out educational benefits, and a pension fund. This meant I could afford the fastest PC around: a 16mhz 80386 system with add-on math coprocessor. Graphics were provided by a Metheus 1004 add-on graphics card with amazing 1024x768 screen resolution and 16 colors! Final addition was a mouse, which also required an add-on card. My display was a 19” CRT that weighed 56 lbs!

With a background in manufacturing, job shop business and molding, my first customers were often mold or model shops and several of these customers (Tech NH and Mack Prototype) are still customers today!

How did the name “Computer-Aided Products” come about? The dealer I purchased CADKEY from myself had a very unwieldy name, and one that did not lend itself to abbreviation. And I expected that as the technology marched on something like “Dana’s CAD” wouldn’t accurately portray our product offerings. So Computer-Aided Products lent itself to “CAP.”  We would incorporate nine months later.

Read CAPINC's 25th Anniversary - Part 2

See It To Believe It - CAPINC Video Library

Topics: CAPINC, 25th Anniversary

MakerBot Enters the Prosumer Market with the Replicator Z18

Posted by Dana Seero on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 @ 09:43 AM

One year ago I wrote about the potential for an emerging “Prosumer” market for 3D printers. The term can apply to these machines in at least three ways: as Toffler’s “Proactive Consumer,” as a “Professional Consumer,” or as a “Producing Consumer.”

describe the imageThe Replicator Z18 is priced at $6,500. Considering these machines will likely depreciate as fast as computer equipment, this is well above the budget for any but the most well-heeled or committed consumer. We added MakerBot after their acquisition by Stratasys and have all their models. We’ve been testing them for business use. The results of those tests will be reported later, so for now let’s focus on what the Z18 is and what it offers.

The Replicator Z18 has an immense workspace in comparison to most Maker-grade 3D printers. The build envelope is 12” x 12” x 18” (305mm x 305mm x 457mm). Consider that the Stratasys Fortus 250, a best-seller in the commercial market, has a workspace envelope of 10” x 10” x 12”.

Large workspaces have been offered previously in maker-grade printers. But they did not have heated build chambers, so builds that actually used the space suffered from severe warping and delamination. The patent for heated build chambers is owned by Stratasys so their acquisition cleared the way for this feature.

The Z18 has one disappointment for commercial users: it is PLA (Polyactic Acid, used by most maker machines) only, with only one extruder so a soluble support material cannot be run. PLA is a useful material for lots of “looks-like” models and limited functional testing. The lower heat deflection temperature is a concern and you won’t want to be leaving your PLA models in a closed car in the summer, and the material is usually more brittle than ABS. On the flip side, it smells better, it’s considered more earth-friendly, and can be pigmented. It can be glued, though not as readily as ABS.

For commercial users the lack of a soluble support material is a bigger obstacle. Many injection molded, cast, and even machined parts have internal passages that require support material and will be extremely difficult to clean by hand. This hand labor is costly and can result in damage to the model.

Maker forums are full of conspiracy theories about how Stratasys may have limited the functionality of the system to prevent competition with the more expensive Stratasys-brand printers. The strongest evidence against this is the near-total disconnect between the needs and expectations of consumers and commercial users. The Z18 reflects what makers want on a grand scale. And some commercial users (artists and industrial designers, for example) may also find the system meets their needs. But for commercial users, who need production-level accuracy and strength with minimal hand labor, the system has a more limited role.

Expect our detailed test results in September.


Which Technology is Right for You?

Topics: CAPINC, MakerBot, Replicator Z18, Prosumer, Maker, heated chambers, PLA, ABS, build size

Why the Open Hardware Movement Hates 3D Printing Patents & MakerBot: It’s Obvious

Posted by Dana Seero on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 01:26 PM

Why do patents exist?  Patents give inventors a temporary monopoly on an idea. In a free market system, monopolies are considered a bad thing. But patents are granted to encourage innovation: if an inventor could not reap any reward from new ideas, who would pay for research? 

But it’s not enough for an idea to be new to you to be patentable. There is some body of “prior art” in existence to solve a particular problem. The new idea must not only be new, but “non-obvious” to “a person skilled in the art.”

The RepRap project was based almost entirely on using the expiring patent(s) for the FDM process(es) of additive manufacturing. So did the RepRap project “rip off” Stratasys? No: patent protection expires in 17-20 years and the idea(s) can be exploited by all comers.

A recent blog article called “Has MakerBot Become TakerBot?” expressed the idea that MakerBot (now a division of Stratasys) was taking the ideas of customers and attempting to patent them. In investigating the matter, I found the root of the issue to be a near complete lack of understanding of how patents work.

There are three misconceptions that seem to have led to the conclusion. The first is that patent applications document the state of art in order to explain the novel claim: this explanation is just that, not part of the claim. The second is that patent claims can be (and often are) very narrow. Finally, the length of time from which new ideas are documented until a patent application is filed is often months and sometimes, years.

The blogger commented: “OpenBeam, maker of delta-style 3D printers, has been hard at work developing an automatic bed levelling process for some time. The OpenBeam Kossel Pro machine uses a probe attached to the extruder head similar to that described in the MakerBot patent.”

The operative word here is “similar”. This article once again demonstrates the near-complete lack of understanding of many of those in the maker community with industrial equipment.  We used to have an FDM2000 (introduced in 1997) in the office but ran out of space. So here is a picture of the head of a Stratasys uPrint (introduced 2009). This head resembles the head of Stratasys machines going back five to ten years.

The yellow arrow points to a probe that is indexed up and down by the toggle bar behind it. When a print sequence is initiated, the head indexes to a number of X,Y positions on the build platform and the Z drive is engaged until the probe is contacted. The machine uses this data to insure the build platform is present, flat, and level.

So on the face of it, this long-existing Stratasys technology “uses a probe attached to the extruder head” to perform this self-leveling routine. Where’s the outrage? The idea of using a probe attached to the head is old news – 10 to 20 years old. That doesn’t mean there are not new, patentable ways to accomplish this – because, luckily for the folks at OpenBeam, the claims must be quite narrow.

head2arrow resized 600

Finally, there are individuals claiming that ideas or concepts they posted on Thingiverse, MakerBot forums, or elsewhere, were claimed by MakerBot as their own two or three weeks after the information was posted.

No one who has ever walked around with a patent notebook (with each page dated and signed, reviewed weekly by supervisors) would seriously consider that a corporation would be able to copy an idea to make their own in a few weeks. Those patent applications probably reference work that was conceptualized as much as two years ago.

Last year, Stratasys sued Afinia for infringing on four patents. This was notable as it was the first time Stratasys sued anyone over intellectual property. But the maker community is going to have to get real. Cloning ideas for fun is OK; cloning ideas for profit, they’d better be yours.

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Topics: Open Hardware Movement, patent, 3D Printing

The 3D Printing Culture Clash: Makers, MakerBot, and Stratasys

Posted by Dana Seero on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 10:12 AM

The purchase of MakerBot by Stratasys for over $400 million in stock (and up to $200 million in performance bonuses by the end of 2014) demonstrates the potential and interest in 3D printing. To put the deal in perspective, MakerBot has sold about 40,000 machines with an average sale price below $2,000. But the deal was valued at roughly $10,000 per system sold.

The Maker Movement really resulted from three factors: the wide availability of sophisticated but obsolete electronic and electromechanical devices; the Open Source / Free Software movement; and the development of publicly-available flexible manufacturing spaces called "Fab labs" first developed at the MIT Media Lab.

The expiration of the earliest Stratasys patents on FDM led to the creation of the RepRap project, which utilized open-source hardware and software tools to make an open-source version of 3D printing available. Soon a cottage industry developed for extruders, frames, motion control, filament, and front-end software. As demand for these products grew, an entire infrastructure sprang up. 

Given the wide range of electronic, fabrication, and software expertise required to build a working RepRap printer, it wasn't long before demand for kits developed, starting as plans and proceeding to ready-to-assemble kits of parts and instructions.

MakerBot started as one of a number of small kit manufacturers with roots in the RepRap project. After developing several kits, they merged with another company - and absorbed $10 million in venture capital. This led to the release of their first fully-assembled system, the first of the Replicator series, and the first cries of "sell out" by none other than MakerBot co-founder Zach Hoeken, who called for the system to remain true to Open Hardware roots.

But Bre Pettis, one of the remaining founders, disagreed, noting in his blog: "cloning is not cool". The Replicator was released with some architecture "closed" while other parts of the machine were the same as previous open hardware versions.

Pettis highlighted one of the realities of present-day manufacturing: without Intellectual Property protections, new ideas would simply be cloned for profit by others. The innovator may be denied any compensation for their efforts. For casual or part-time hobbyists who might benefit from low-cost clones, this might be a good thing, but for innovators, a strategy to package technology in a way that increased barriers to copying is the only way they might be able to recoup their investment in time and resources.

Ironically, the acquisition of MakerBot by Stratasys will make their technology more useful while less "open." The soon-to-ship $6,500 Z18 has a heated build chamber and new extruder technology. Stratasys has a patent on heated build chambers so users can expect higher quality, more reliable models. While still a single extruder, PLA only system, the Z18 may be the first legitimate entry in the Prosumer 3D printing marketplace.


Which Technology is Right for You?

Topics: Stratasys, The Makers Movement, MakerBot, FDM, 3D Printing

CAPINC Expands their Service Fleet

Posted by Dana Seero on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 @ 10:32 AM

How we chose our latest service vehicle

CAPINC Service Vehicles

With SolidWorks and Stratasys service staff and consultants traveling all through New England, CAPINC has a small fleet of sedans and light trucks to help minimize our transportation costs. The newest addition to this fleet is a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel.

The Cruze is a mid-sized sedan built in Lordstown Ohio and other plants around the world. The 2.0 liter turbodiesel is supplied by GM Germany, while the six speed automatic is made by Aisin in Japan. As a result, while the car is “American” the American content is 50% plus 16% Mexican content. The diesel comes with a high level of standard equipment: the price difference compared to a similarly equipped gas model is between $2,000 and $3,000.

Especially in Northern New England, most of our driving is on highways and there diesels really shine: the EPA highway rating is 46mpg.  The diesel model has some of the aerodynamic features of the Eco model, with under-car panels to smooth airflow, a small rear lip spoiler, and active grill shutters. These shutters remain closed unless additional cooling air is needed. Reducing airflow into the engine compartment helps reduce drag.

Having been a Cavalry platoon leader with nine diesel combat vehicles, I had a few concerns about diesels: noise, cold starts, and sluggish performance. Chevrolet has addressed these issues effectively. The typical “diesel clatter” is noticeable at idle from outside the car, but around town and on the highway it is muted. GM upgraded the engine with ceramic glow plugs and even at temperatures below zero, the glow plugs only need a few seconds to start the car. While the horsepower rating is modest (150hp) this engine has torque of 250 ft lbs and a special “torque boost” mode that will allow up to 280 ft lbs for 10 second periods. The car accelerates from 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and easily keeps up with traffic at all highway speeds.

The best-selling diesel passenger car in the US is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which also features a 2.0 liter turbodiesel. Dimensionally the cars are nearly the same length and width, while the Cruze is a few inches lower. The Cruze is also a little heavier but has a larger fuel tank (15.6 gallons). We buy U.S. assembled cars and while the Passat TDI is now built in a factory in Tennessee, the Jetta Diesel is built outside the US and was thus not considered.

CAPINC's Chevy Cruze

Now that we’ve lived with the Cruze TD for a few weeks, we’ve formed some strong impressions. First, the interior is excellent and the front seats extremely comfortable. Second, the factory navigation system and “Infotainment” system is easy to use and very well integrated relative to some other factory installations. (We purchased that option as some states require “hands free” cell phone use and we want to minimize distraction). Mileage is living up to expectations, with a range of 31 to 51 mpg in city, commuting, and highway use. Ride is well controlled without being harsh.

We normally keep company cars for the five year depreciation period, during which we rack up  120,000 to 180,000 miles. Along with the operating economy and fuel range, we expect the resale value of this car to be higher than the four cylinder gas version.

Some of the upgrades we’ve added so far:

General Altimax Arctic winter tires

We equip all our company cars with winter tires because of the immense gains in stopping and handling over all season tires. We normally purchase Nokian (and prefer the new Hakkapeliitta R2) or the Michelin X-Ice but these tires were sold out. The Altimax Arctic is the Gislaved Nord Frost 3 – a well regarded performer at very competitive cost.

WeatherTech Floor Liners.

Most OEM rubber mats have flat sides, dumping the pool of ice, snow and salt that melted off your boots onto the edges of the carpet. Weathertech molds liners with substantial edges that contain the mess and protect the car. They now use digitizers to scan each car model to provide a custom fit.


See It To Believe It - CAPINC Video Library

Topics: Stratasys, CAPINC, Fleet, Service, Vehicle, SolidWorks

About this Blog

old dana2

This blog, written by CAPINC President Dana Seero, contains news, ideas, and observations to help give insight into the engineering industry.

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