Dalton Curtis: How One Meetup Revolutionized His Industry
As a Durability and Testing Engineer for Fiat/Chrysler Automotives, Dalton Curtis knows every key component of an automobile. With this attuned knowledge, he saw a need for innovation and redefined his department’s capabilities by rethinking how parts can be manufactured and tested in the prototypic phase.
Durability Test Engineer
ARIZONA PROVING GROUNDS
Dalton operates at the Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ where he tests the latest and greatest in automotives; many of which are two-three years out from the debuting on lots. He leads a 6 member engineering team that focuses on diagnostics, documentation, and troubleshooting issues.
When issues arose in vehicles, it many times called for ordering parts. His company is based out of Michigan, translating into weeks delay to continue projects. These parts could range from large scale exterior pieces to miniscule plastic clips.
At a recent car exposition, he witnessed a team produce parts similar to what he needed with a 3D printer, cutting labor and delay time exponentially. Full of inspiration, he continued to toy with the idea of using this technology to help test protype pieces when he gained word that local meetup, Creative Comrades, was doing a presentation on the topic.
3D Printing Workshop @ ASU
Dalton attended the December meet-up 3D Printing with Andy Gnidziejko, full of questions and ideas. The best part, he was able to get those questions answered on the spot by local expert Andy.
In congruence with the presentation, ASU Havasu hosted an interactive workshop where participants could learn the possibilities of 3D printing with hands-on experience. Dalton pitched the opportunity to his team and majority of his crew attended the workshop.
“The workshop was great because I’m a kinesthetic learner. Having the act of doing [the task] solidifies [the learning experience].”
After the workshop, Dalton knew he wanted to bring his concepts into fruition with the use of the 3D printer technology. In order to do so, he needed to visualize the process for his supervisory board.
Buying a piece of technology as advanced as the printer was not a possibility for Dalton so he asked the assistance of the Partnership for Economic Development. The PED was able to loan a Robo 3D to Dalton and the team so he could validate the benefit of such technology in his department.
The Team using their printer
“I got to speak to my Director level which is two [levels] under the CEO and he was just floored by it. Having something to present and say ‘This is what we’ve done’ was amazing.”
The availability of the technology for his presentation lead a successful pitch, resulting in a purchase of a printer for the department. With the presence of the equipment in his department, Dalton is now able to rapid print prototype parts to a specific tolerance pertaining to the project. The increased efficiency translates into faster validation for the parts.
The speed, reliability, and convenience of the technology saved Dalton’s department weeks of waiting, hours of labor, and tens of thousands in overall costs.
Dalton’s story is just one example of the power of collaboration in a community. With an awareness in creative and technological developments, multitudes of industries can benefit.
Creative Comrades continues to share trends in innovation in order to boost the efficiency, quality, and success of every professional setting, one meet-up at a time.