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Archive for May, 2014

The beauty of advancing technology – reducing your cost for micro GPS trackers

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Making custom GPS tracking devices for wildlife and industrial applications keeps us busy and interested.  2014 has already been very busy and full of new technologies. We added a new micro GPS device to our product line this year and while this isn’t really new for us, we had one 4 years ago, this one has more features including remote data download and it only weighs 0.4 grams without the battery.  We designed this using new technologies and it allowed us to offer it at a much lower than normal cost.

But there is another technology we added this year that is helping us to cut costs and we are passing that on to our customers.  It’s not exactly a new technology but until recently we didn’t think it was practical for us.  I’m talking about 3D printing.  I have been considering purchasing a 3D printer for about the last 3 years but couldn’t pull the trigger because they were a bit too cumbersome, using strange materials and requiring a lot of cleaning after each job.

But in December while shopping with Naho and finding myself just a touch bored I wandered into a Microsoft store.  This wasn’t much more interesting than the fancy kitchen / cooking store I had been in but at least there was a possibility of finding something interesting.  I shuffled in and was greeted by a kid who looked about 15. He was probably 25.  He quickly realized that I didn’t want to look at phones, computers or tablets and said to me, “Come look at this.”  He showed me to a 3D printer they had on display.  It is not a Microsoft product but they are allowing them to be displayed in their stores.  The machine is made in Brooklyn, New York.  I got very excited very quickly and started firing questions at him.  For those of you who don’t know what a 3D printer is, it is a machine that accepts a CAD file and then lays material down on a platform, layer by layer, building up the “thing” represented in the file.  Basically it prints a part.  When I saw how clean it was, how good the resolution was and how many different plastic materials it can build from I knew it was time to finally get my 3D printer.  I asked pimple face to wait while I ran to get my wife.  Naho is the head of finance here at Telemetry Solutions and I figured there would be no better way to get that department’s approval for the purchase than to show her.

In a few minutes she was standing with me watching this machine work.  Purchase approved!  It is really great to have the machine because it has seriously increased the output of one employee.  Recently I needed a housing for a test of an Iridium product for a customer in New Zealand.  It was just for a test in the forest, no need for a real housing that could withstand abuse so we printed one up real quick and Bob’s your uncle, out it went.

For our new micro GPS product we have 2 related devices that need housings.  One is the charger and the other is the base station.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars stocking housings for an entire year’s production, now we can design the housing and just print them out as needed, this greatly reduces our cash outlay and we are passing that savings along.  If you want to see a part being printed click the link and watch this video.

Printer building parts