3-D Printing is a Solid Venture for Multidisciplinary Engineering Student

By Rachel Baker, Penn State University

Thursday September 11th, 2014

Original Publication: http://news.psu.edu/story/325914/2014/09/11/academics/3-d-printing-solid-venture-multidisciplinary-engineering-student

  Joseph Sinclair displays a project printed on one of his 3-D printers.    Image: Rachel Baker

Joseph Sinclair displays a project printed on one of his 3-D printers.

Image: Rachel Baker

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Joseph Sinclair has a busy schedule to manage as a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and engineering science. In addition to maintaining a rigorous course schedule, he also finds time to run Solid Dynamics LLC, a rapid prototyping service that utilizes the latest techniques in additive manufacturing to design and produce quality products.

Sinclair’s service specializes in every step of product creation, beginning with designing a client’s concept, to developing prototypes and printing finished, end-use products. With a total of seven 3-D printers under his control, Sinclair is able to print in different colors and various materials, creating durable products to client specifications. He has a specialized knowledge of polymers and fluid flow which enables him to prevent his products from warping, increasing the lifetime and overall strength of the products.

However, this knowledge didn’t come easily. On the first day of use, he broke the first 3-D printer he owned, a model bought following his high school graduation. His engineering knowledge complements the tendency to dismantle objects to learn their inner workings. This ability to combine a scientific background with troubleshooting skills contributes heavily to his ongoing success.

“Maintenance is a huge part of the additive manufacturing industry,” Sinclair said. “A nerd alone can’t do this; a guy who digs ditches can’t do this. But a nerd who digs ditches can.” He estimates that he has put in a few thousand hours of print time in the last two years alone.

Sinclair’s coursework has been invaluable to his academic and professional endeavors. He explained that NucE 450 increased his knowledge of sensors, a crucial part of the additive manufacturing industry, ME 360 taught him to describe the quantitative application of various materials and geometries to the design of machines, and NucE 310W developed his ability to describe technical processes to non-technical clients.

Solid Dynamics’ first client was VorTic LLC, a company also run by current and former Penn State students, which wanted a prototype of their unique watch components. Sinclair developed functional 3-D printed models for VorTic; with these models, his client went on to win the MNE Department Boeing Innovation Competition.

Since Sinclair’s business opened in January, he has hired a team of undergraduate engineering students to assist with the client workload. When not developing products for clients, the Reading, Pennsylvania-area native works on artificial intelligence for 3-D printers and explores ideas that he hopes will contribute to society.

“There is no other term but ‘limitless’ for the applications of additive manufacturing,” Sinclair said. “We are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities of 3-D printing.”

Alumnus Parlays Interest in 3D Printing

By Penn State News

Wednesday, November 11th 2015

Original Publication: http://news.psu.edu/story/380243/2015/11/11/academics/alumnus-parlays-interest-3-d-printing-prototyping-business

While a student at Penn State Berks, Joseph Sinclair had his first encounter with a 3-D printer in the college’s Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Center. It sparked an interest but it wasn’t until he attended a career fair and had only limited success that he decided to take matters into his own hands by taking that interest to the next level and starting his own company.

Sinclair started a rapid prototyping business and advanced it to the point that it could support itself, all while he was still a student at Penn State.

The prelude to Solid Dynamics was a dorm-run business called Joe’s Rapid Prototyping. By December 2014, Sinclair had three 3-D printers running in his University Park dorm room. He knew he needed a change when his room started smelling like plastic, so he decided to rent space, purchase commercial software licenses, and form an LLC. Since then, he has expanded to use more printers and printing at higher qualities. He has also hired students to work as contractors.

 Joseph Sinclair prepares a 3D-Printer in order to showcase a mobile training unit that will be used to teach students about 3D Printing in a Solid Dynamics "Introdudatuion to 3D-Printing Course" offered at Penn State Berks.   Image: Penn State

Joseph Sinclair prepares a 3D-Printer in order to showcase a mobile training unit that will be used to teach students about 3D Printing in a Solid Dynamics "Introdudatuion to 3D-Printing Course" offered at Penn State Berks. 

Image: Penn State


In addition to Solid Dynamics’ day-to-day business, Sinclair is pursuing other projects. He plans to “forward-fit” an older machine to 3-D print metal, built at a significantly smaller expense than other models on the market. He has already built what he calls his “presentation box”– an entire rapid prototyping kit in one portable box, complete with computer, software, and the printer.

He states that he has other projects in the works, too, though the details are ones he is not ready to share—yet.

Sinclair shares a piece of advice with entrepreneurial students who aren’t sure about which direction to choose: “Pick something that is cheap to get into, but so technically oriented that no one else will want to do it.” Sinclair learned all the in’s and out’s to operating and repairing his printers—a skill that took thousands of hours and has paid off immensely.

“What you see here is a prelude to the future,” said Joseph Sinclair of his Innovation Park office.

Sinclair recently paid a visit to Penn State Berks’ Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Center. He stays in touch with the faculty members who ignited his passion for 3-D printing and inspired him to follow his dreams.

Entrepreneurs in Residence: Q&A with Joseph Sinclair

By: Langan Launch Box

Friday January 1st, 2017

Original Publication(s):

http://sites.psu.edu/langanlaunchbox/entrepreneurs-in-residence/qa-with-joseph-sinclair/

http://sites.psu.edu/langanlaunchbox/entrepreneurs-in-residence/

  Langan Launch Box Entrepreneur in Residence Joseph Sinclair operates an early iteration of his companies modular and portable prototyping unit.

Langan Launch Box Entrepreneur in Residence Joseph Sinclair operates an early iteration of his companies modular and portable prototyping unit.


Our Entrepreneurs in Residence are helping us build user-friendly spaces that encourage collaboration. The Entrepreneurs are also available in different ways to help new entrepreneurs take their ideas from concept to creation. One of our Entrepreneurs in Residence, Joseph Sinclair, discusses briefly, his entrepreneurial journey. 

Are there any obstacles you faced with starting a business in this field, and how did you overcome these challenges?

Simply put, yes. The primary problem I faced was overcoming the doubts of clients and business partners brought on by my youth. I started my company when I was 20 so many people we worked with were skeptical of our ability to do something engineers with 15 years of experience were doing.

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur instead of getting a job at a prototyping company?

Honestly it was an internship interview that had a negative outcome. I believe it was my 2nd year in school (which would have been my Junior year technically since I graduated early) and I went into this interview with Schreyer’s Honors Credentials, a 3.7 GPA, an anticipated early graduation, and the rank of Eagle Scout, thinking there was no possibility I would not get the internship. Unfortunately, I received a call the following week with a rejection for the internship. I think about 30 seconds after that call ended I decided that if I couldn’t help build someone else’s company, I might as well build my own.


  Joseph Sinclair feeds in the plastic material required for this 3D-Printer to operate and produce components. 

Joseph Sinclair feeds in the plastic material required for this 3D-Printer to operate and produce components. 

What were the challenges you faced being both an entrepreneur and a student at the same time?

The challenges that face a young entrepreneur can be as simple as acquiring customers or as difficult as letting an employee go. These were certainly challenges I faced along the road however the biggest challenge I personally faced, while juggling school and a company, had nothing to do with school or my companies but rather with the relationships I had with those I cared about. For someone very analytical it is easy to succeed in academic and business settings but they have a tendency to falter when it comes to maintaining relationships. If there is anything to be taken away from my personal journey, it is to never let your business get in the way of personal relationships, after all they are the ones to help you get back up when you fail.

 


Langan LaunchBox Debut Announces Initiatives to Boost Local Economy

By: Lisa Baldi

Friday October 28th, 2016

Original Publication: http://berks.psu.edu/feature/langan-launchbox-debut-announces-initiatives-boost-local-economy

  Feature Photo: Joseph Sinclair of Shillington, an adjunct faculty member at Penn State Berks and owner of Solid Dynamics L.L.C., talks about 3-D printing while sophomore Brianna Kondos operates one of the printers during the opening of the Langan LaunchBox.    Image: Bill Uhrich, Reading Eagle

Feature Photo: Joseph Sinclair of Shillington, an adjunct faculty member at Penn State Berks and owner of Solid Dynamics L.L.C., talks about 3-D printing while sophomore Brianna Kondos operates one of the printers during the opening of the Langan LaunchBox.

Image: Bill Uhrich, Reading Eagle

Community members and county officials joined Penn State Berks faculty, staff, and students, as well as Penn State Health St. Joseph physicians and administrators, for the inaugural event announcing the Langan LaunchBox on Oct. 25, 2016. Attendees visited the new center, located within Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus, and learned about the initiatives that will be funded by the $50,000 seed grant awarded to Penn State Berks, in partnership with Penn State Health St. Joseph, as part of Invent Penn State. 

Pamela J. Shupp, President and CEO of the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, praised the Langan LaunchBox initiative, stating that entrepreneurs will create most of the jobs of the future. "We don't want to be the forgotten city," she said. "We want to be the city that is reinventing itself. Thank you for allowing us to build jobs."


The Langan LaunchBox will provide several opportunities for students and entrepreneurs in the City of Reading. First, it will serve as an extension of the college’s Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center, providing a designated meeting space for entrepreneurs from the college and the local community.

The Additive Manufacturing Lab, another area within the Langan LaunchBox, is a maker space where students can work with 3-D printers to bring their ideas to life.

  Kaitlyn Carroll, an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology major, worked with the 3-D printers in the Additive Manufacturing Lab within the Langan LaunchBox.    Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

Kaitlyn Carroll, an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology major, worked with the 3-D printers in the Additive Manufacturing Lab within the Langan LaunchBox.

Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

Joseph Sinclair, alumnus of Penn State Berks and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the college, attended the event and demonstrated the printers created by his company, Solid Dynamics LLC. Sinclair became interested in 3-D printing while a student at Penn State Berks. He went on to start Solid Dynamics LLC to create prototypes for manufacturing. He is also an adjunct professor of the college, teaching additive manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Greg Flemming was at the event, demonstrating the drone technology that Onuku Industries creates. Onuku was founded by alumnus and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Kyle Moyer, along with two of his fellow students. Flemming, a retired IBM executive, has joined the company, lending his expertise in business to the start-up.

The LaunchBox will also house a new initiative called “Be Bold, Take Charge,” in which Penn State Berks faculty and students, as well as Penn State Health St. Joseph’s physicians and staff, will support community-based health and initiatives in the City of Reading. This initiative is headed by James Shankweiler, Senior Lecturer in Business at Penn State Berks, and Dr. Kim Wolf at Penn State Health St. Joseph.

   Be Bold, Take Charge     James Shankweiler, coordinator of Be Bold, Take Charge, discusses the initiative with Felisa Preciado, (pictured left) Penn State Administrative Fellow, and Nena Koschny, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications for Invent Penn State.    Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

Be Bold, Take Charge

James Shankweiler, coordinator of Be Bold, Take Charge, discusses the initiative with Felisa Preciado, (pictured left) Penn State Administrative Fellow, and Nena Koschny, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications for Invent Penn State.

Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

In addition, the LaunchBox will include areas for other initiatives, including the college’s Human Movement Research Center, an interdisciplinary enterprise which will focus on assessing wellness in the community and understanding the connection between the mind and body.

“We are excited by the support from the Invent Penn State program and welcome the opportunity to work with our partner, Penn State Health St. Joseph, to build upon and expand the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem with a focus on business and economic development, as well as social entrepreneurship projects in the City of Reading,” states Dr. R. Keith Hillkirk, Chancellor of Penn State Berks.

  Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk addressed a group of more than 60 attendees at the Langan LaunchBox debut.    Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk addressed a group of more than 60 attendees at the Langan LaunchBox debut.

Image: Katie Quinn, Penn State Berks

"This partnership will open up wonderful opportunities for our school and our community," Hillkirk said to more than 60 guests during a program to introduce the initiative. "We will do things together that we could not do alone."

John R. Morahan, President and CEO of Penn State Health St. Joseph, said the hospital is interested in the physical and economic health of Reading and its residents.

"We are forging ahead to offer education, research, and community outreach to spur entrepreneurial development to improve the lives of the members of our community," he stated.

Berks competed with other University locations for one of six seed grants from the Invent Penn State initiative. The criteria included an existing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, potential for success, and partnership and support within the community and region. This spring, the college was awarded a $50,000 seed grant to jump start entrepreneurial activities across the Commonwealth.

About Invent Penn State:

President Eric J. Barron launched the $30 million initiative in 2015 to leverage the University’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to drive job creation, economic development and student career success.

Don't call it 3-D printing: It's Additive Manufacturing


By Jennifer Hetrick - Reading Eagle Correspondent

Tuesday January 12, 2016

Original Publicationhttp://www.readingeagle.com/business-weekly/article/dont-call-it-3-d-printing-its-additive-manufacturing

  Courtesy of Dan McMahon | A student from Penn State works on a printer at Solid Dynamics LLC, College Township, Centre County. There has been increasing and widespread adoption and innovation of additive manufacturing technology, conventionally known as 3-D printing.

Courtesy of Dan McMahon | A student from Penn State works on a printer at Solid Dynamics LLC, College Township, Centre County. There has been increasing and widespread adoption and innovation of additive manufacturing technology, conventionally known as 3-D printing.


Joseph Sinclair is the 21-year-old behind a successful 3-D printing and prototyping startup in State College.

But he first delved into this field while a student at Penn State Berks.

Sinclair is from Cumru Township and began his college career in Berks County in 2012 with an accelerated course load.

A job fair on campus led to him learning about 3-D printing from vendors, and that sparked his interest in what would eventually be his career.

Sinclair explained that while consumers know his work as 3-D printing, those in this industry would never use this term. They refer to it, instead, as additive manufacturing.

In his fall semester of 2013, while still in Berks County, Sinclair started Joe's Rapid Prototyping as a hobby before officially opening Solid Dynamics LLC in College Township, Centre County, in early 2014.

He finished his double major with bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering in spring 2015 on Penn State's main campus.

Sinclair also has several patents pending for 3-D printers that will make the printing process more efficient than current models on the market.

Widespread Adoption

Even though patents on the first forms of additive manufacturing from the 1980s began to expire in the 2000s, there has been increasing and widespread adoption and innovation of the technology.

Explaining how the old days went takes a lot longer than how Sinclair's team practices efficiency and speed with ease today.

"If it was 1990, and I had a product that I wanted to prototype," Sinclair said, "I would have somebody draft up 2-D drawings for me. If they were really advanced at the time, they would be able to have access to 3-D drawings, but it's not very likely. So it'd most likely be 2-D drawings. It would take months to do, to work back and forth with a person to get the right dimensions.

"Then you would ship those 2-D drawings to a middleman, who would find the best casting or injection-molding company to produce your components," he said. "You would then have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the thousands of dollars you would have paid initially, to get the 2-D drawings done."

There's no long story short in the old process.

"They would then cast an x amount of prototypes for you," Sinclair said, "and that would cost an additional couple thousand dollars. It would take anywhere from about a year to a year-and-a-half for all of this work, and $20,000 to $30,000 on a very small component. Then you would do multiple iterations of that, so now we're talking a couple more years. Then you would have your final prototype done, which you would then produce thousands of and sell commercially."

Several Iterations

Sinclair's employees usually work side by side with clients, or remotely if necessary, to do this same work of designing and fabricating projects within a few weeks or less, across several iterations of designs.

"We have the machines literally right next to the computers that design your component, and we know how to run those machines, so we can have your component done overnight after you give us the go-ahead to build it," Sinclair said. "It's taken down what would have been years in the late 1990s and early 2000s to what is now less than a month to fabricate prototypes."

And speed blended with efficiency and accuracy is nearly its own commodity.

"Our largest build volume is 10 inches by 10 inches by 12 inches, which is fairly large for this industry when it comes to polymer machines," Sinclair said.

Sinclair also works full time remotely for Imperial Machine & Tool Co. in Blairstown Township, Warren County, N.J., as its head engineer for hybrid processes, in addition to running his own business in Pennsylvania.

John Shelp is the chief technology officer of Imperial Machine & Tool and has worked on several projects with Sinclair.

"We've had some military jobs with him," Shelp said about Sinclair's business.

Shelp noted that a lot of small, complex parts that often are thin-walled and very lightweight are what Sinclair has made for Imperial Machine & Tool.

"Some of them have cooling channels inside," he said.

A Great Asset

Shelp said Sinclair's knowledge and technological understanding has been a great asset, given that many of those in the manufacturing industry are trained in subtractive approaches.

While most of Sinclair's work is polymer-based, Shelp said he consults with Sinclair on metal additive manufacturing projects as well.

Sinclair also works with Novasentis Inc., which has an office in his same building and California.

"Novasentis Inc. manufactures electromechanical polymer actuators," said Rick Ducharme, vice president of engineering. "These are very thin, like a sheet of paper, pieces of plastic that can bend, vibrate and create sounds. We use these actuators in wearable electronic devices, such as fitness watchbands, to provide meaningful notifications.

"For example, instead of only feeling a buzz that is the same whether you are receiving a phone call, text message or reached an exercise goal, we can provide different tactile signals and patterns around the wrist that convey the content of the notification."

Ducharme noted that he often has components produced by Sinclair's team within a few days or up to a week.

"We collaborate with the major consumer electronics companies that work at a tremendous pace," Ducharme said. "Having a team like Solid Dynamics LLC not only located close, but also able to turn around iterations of parts within a day, gives us a huge advantage in designing, prototyping and optimizing our parts and references for customers.

"You can imagine the value of showing up at a Samsung, or an Apple meeting with a product that looks and feels like theirs but has added functionality from your component. It eliminates a ton of their integration questions and allows them to focus on the user experience. More importantly, it allows us to be designed into products much faster than we could using traditional prototyping efforts. And for a startup, that is key."

Contact Jennifer Hetrick: money@readingeagle.com.

 
  Courtesy of Dan McMahon:   Solid Dynamics' Founder Joseph Sinclair poses next to his Stratasys Dimension 1200ES SST 3D Printer at their State College Office

Courtesy of Dan McMahon: Solid Dynamics' Founder Joseph Sinclair poses next to his Stratasys Dimension 1200ES SST 3D Printer at their State College Office

Since the earliest patents for additive manufacturing devices have started to expire, the 3-D printing industry is entering a Wild West sort of stage, where innovators of new technologies will be championed and rewarded for bringing additive manufacturing to the next level.

Joe Sinclair and Innovation Park-based Solid Dynamics hope to be one of those companies at the forefront of this expansion.

The Penn State graduate has sat by different 3-D printers in his Innovation Park lab space for the last two years, watching as different liquid polymers are spun, squirted, molded, and assembled into whatever device his clients request. Taking entire design elements from his clients and tweaking or customizing them using his own engineering skills, Sinclair and his team first use computer-aided drafting software to mock up a blueprint. That blueprint is then introduced into one of 14 3-D printing machines Solid Dynamics uses.

The machines take it from there. Cheaper builds using quicker printers are an option for clients looking for rapid turnaround time. More expensive options use printers that take longer and print the smoothest, most professional looking components for assembly. 

But even these top-of-the-line printers don’t always do the job well, and Sinclair and his company are ready to revolutionize the way Solid Dynamics prototypes devices for its clients. They hope to make the process more efficient by introducing a printer that can “think for itself.”

“3-D printers are extremely stupid machines,” Sinclair says. “Right now, I have to sit by the machine, babysit it until the component is done, and take the component off, measure everything to make sure it will fit together—and a lot of times it won’t.”

“If I design a nut and a bolt, and I print them to spec the first time, they’re not going to fit together. It’s just something that doesn’t happen in additive manufacturing.”

Sinclair calls himself a “babysitter” or really a machines-sitter. It’s not a misnomer. Until now engineers have had to closely monitor 3-D printers to ensure error-free operation. If there is a hang-up — think of a paper jam in your home office printer — someone has to be there to fix it, or the prototype is a loss.

“If they are at a tolerance, or if they’re just completely failing, the device itself has no way of detecting that,” Sinclair says. “So it’s up to a highly-trained operator to be able to correct those problems before the prototype is ruined.”

Considering Sinclair and his team pride themselves on their ability to complete prototypes in as little as a few days — jobs that would have taken months and months just a few years ago — efficiency is critical.

He believes there’s opportunity in making the prototyping process more fluid. The less time it takes to fabricate a serviceable prototype, the more time his clients have to test it.

Enter Sinclair’s innovation.

Solid Dynamics has built a new 3-D printer that, for the first time, introduces quality control measures and feedback mechanism software that will alert the machine when something is wrong. Patents are pending for the machine that the company plans to both use internally and sell to third parties.

The new system will make the prototyping stage more efficient and will eliminate costly back-and-forth with clients who may find that the prototype (as it is originally designed) doesn’t hold up structurally when tested. 

What was previously more of a guessing game in terms of which additives and polymers would best work for certain projects will now be a more exact science.

“With our design, you can introduce a drawing into our proprietary CAD software, which is very user-friendly, then the 3-D printer will optimize that CAD model for fabrication,” Sinclair says. “The device will start fabricating your component on its own, and will check the component for dimensional integrity and structural integrity as the component is being fabricated.”

And, no, Sinclair isn’t worried about better 3-D printers making the engineers who operate them obsolete. 

“We don’t want to continue using the same machines with the same problems for the next 10 years,” Sinclair says. “People are still going to be having the same headaches, and they will have to continue to come to us for solutions. If we can get to the point where we sell machines plus software that improves quality and turnaround time, that’s beneficial.”