At the Lutgen household’s home in Southern California, you’d be hard pressed to find crumbs on the floor. As part of his class assignment, one of Joe Lutgen’s sons invented a crumb catcher, a tray that you can attach to the side of tables. The apparatus was designed in SolidWorks CAD software and produced in the Mojo 3D printer Joe won in the 2013 DE-Stratasys Rapid Ready Sweekstakes. 3D printing is now a family hobby. Joe has designed and printed business card holders; his son is planning to wow his classmates with personalized nameplates, designed online at Printcraft.org, to be produced in the family-owned Mojo.
After winning the printer, Joe, who runs a design consulting business under the name RSI Mechanical LLC., began offering physical prototypes and mockups as part of his services. “I’m printing everything, from blow-molded parts and brackets to fixtures that can be glued together,” he said. “One of my main clients now regularly asks me to print stuff, and smaller clients sometimes also ask me to print designs. It’s been nice to be able to bring [a prototype] to their office, show them what I’ve made already so they can see how it works.”
Joe often works with individual inventors who have ideas they want to explore, recorded, and patented. Unlike typical CAD-savvy automotive or aerospace project managers, these inventors may not have even used a mechanical modeling program. So Joe’s ability to show them a 3D-printed physical mockup instead of a CAD file or a screenshot tips the scale in his favor. “With the prototype, they can easily see what works, and what doesn’t work,” Joe said.
Additive manufacturing, Joe revealed, is now “an extension of” his consulting services. “In addition to my hour rates, I offer [clients] a set fee for 3D-printed parts,” he said. Since he owns the Mojo machine, Joe can offer printing cost that he estimates are roughly 50% of what the same job might cost at a printing service bureau. “A lot of [service bureaus] have a minimum fee,” said Joe. “I don’t have to charge [my clients] that. I charge them whatever it costs to print. My clients are on tight budgets, so it helps them keep the cost down.”
The crumb catcher invented by Joe’s son is patent-pending, so don’t even think about pitching the concept to Procter & Gamble as yours.
For more and Joe and his business, watch the video below, where he discussed winning the Mojo printer.