Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two In A Row...

Another eventful day for the engineering team at Local Motors today...

We spent the day on site at Z Corporation to review their rapid prototyping scanners and printers. Just like adding SolidWorks, this is technology that could prove to be a core competency at Local Motors and very useful in meeting our prototyping time line at or above expectations, not to mention assist in the manufacturing process at the same time.

After seeing the capabilities of using the scanner and printer both in tandem and by themselves, we now have more questions to answer in addition to those already answered today.

1) Just how much time would having the scanner affect my time in drawing existing parts vs. the current method of obtaining the part, taking measurements, then drawing it? Furthermore, is having the ability to print a prototype (either of a part we design or reverse engineered) worth the cost of the equipment, space in the shop it will take up, could we use the capital for an alternative piece of equipment, training, or testing with a greater return?

2) This is a big one - How much of the cost is justified SOLELY by what we learn from having this technology in house? Can we make the decision now, without purchasing the equipment, that it's best to have someone else that has already been through the associated learning curve and implemented this technology create prototypes for us, or even purchase such a company while we focus on other aspects we consider to be closer to the intent of our mission?

I could answer these questions and others that need to be addressed in regard to this issue now, but this is not a decision to be made only by the engineers - it isn't a question of whether or not the technology represents the technological prowess of Local Motors, but our ethos as well. If it doesn't represent the mission statement that governs the actions of the entire company, it deserves the input from each team member and we'll have to find another way to design our vehicles on schedule and within budget. In other words, the decision will be based on input from the entire team to make sure that the capital we've raised is used not only on the right technology, but the right technology at the right time.

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