Put Direct Digital Manufacturing to Work For You

Monthly Spotlight
:: Put Direct Digital Manufacturing to Work For You

Direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is a term that is being used more and more when discussing new uses for rapid prototypes. DDM is the process of using rapid prototyping (RP) technology to produce parts for use as final products. Many industries such as aerospace, dental, medical, and consumer products are already using this technology to produce production products. Direct digital manufacturing is ideal for the following applications:

• End-use production parts
• Short run production
• Parts with complex geometries
• Direct tooling inserts for Injection Molding

Top 3 Advantages:

Rapid prototyping technology is constantly improving, giving it the ability to compete with traditional manufacturing techniques in terms of price, speed, reliability and cost. Here are the top 3 advantages of DDM:

1. Speed – Additive manufacturing can produce an end use part in a matter of days rather than weeks. Although the actual manufacturing speed is slower, the time is made up in the prep and post-processing activities. RP builds the desired parts from a 3D CAD file, eliminating the need to produce tools or other equipment used in other manufacturing techniques.

2. Cost – DDM provides a cost savings through reduced labor costs and process efficiencies. The amount of labor and time needed to produce the parts is greatly reduced, resulting in lower part pricing. Another cost savings that is realized through the RP process is energy and material waste. Since the process only forms the desired part, waste for both energy and material is much reduced. Family build pricing also assists in process efficiency by giving you the ability to produce several parts at a time to fill the machine’s build envelope.

3. Complex Geometries – RP technologies allow the creation of more efficient designs without the limitations of other processes. Through the principles of additive manufacturing, internal features and shapes can be created that could not be created with traditional methods.


Case Study: Direct Digital Manufacturing
:: National Geographic’s Crittercam

The Crittercam is a research tool designed to be worn by wild animals. It combines video and audio recording with the collection of environmental data such as depth, temperature, velocity and acceleration and even makes three-dimensional profiles of the dives of sea creatures. These compact systems allow scientists to study animal behavior without the interference of a human observer. Combining solid data with gripping imagery, Crittercam brings the animal’s point of view to the scientific community and delivers a message of conservation to worldwide television audiences.

Marine biologist and filmmaker Greg Marshall and his team wanted to make the Crittercam smaller, lighter and incorporate the latest technology for both audio and video, thereby allowing it to be more robust. In order for this to occur, they needed to think outside the box. They decided that a custom SLS part would serve multiple purposes and allow them total design freedom. The part needed to brace and center the controller board that was already connected to the back plate and serve as the supporting structure for the camera mounting.

:: Rapid Prototyping Help Advance Medical Devices

Advancements in rapid prototyping (RP) processes and materials are affecting medical devices, implantables, equipment, and anatomical models. RP technologies are automated mechanical techniques to build physical 3D models from 3D CAD files. A few examples of medical devices designed using RP include catheters, stents, syringes, retractors and surgical fasteners. Prototypes are also important in the design and manufacturing of other pieces of medical equipment including MRI machines, hospital beds, handheld testing and display devices, and fluid collection and testing equipment.


Objet Geometries Announces New Pricing for the Objet Alaris30 Desktop 3D Printer at $24,900

Rehovot, Israel, September 7, 2010 – Objet Geometries Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, today announced the new price of $24,900* for its market-proven Alaris30™ desktop 3D printer. The price, effective as of today, September 7, 2010, makes the Objet Alaris30 the only sub-$25,000 3D printer capable of printing high-definition, high-quality prototypes at an affordable price.

“Office 3D printer buyers are continually considering the price/value equation to ensure the best quality prototypes while keeping the cost in line with their business goals and budgets,” explains Gilad Gans, Executive Vice President of Objet Geometries. “Starting at only $24,900 and while offering unmatched precision and durability, the Objet Alaris30 provides great value which will allow many more businesses to cost justify in-house 3D printing and to meet design and budgetary requirements.”

Objet’s Alaris30 brings the patented PolyJet 3D-printing technology used in Objet’s professional and office systems to the desktop. It is the first office-friendly desktop system to print true-to-life parts. The ability to create prototypes that accurately represent the desired end-product allows crucial decisions to be made early in the product development life cycle, saving valuable time and costs.

“Our customers are always seeking our counsel on ways to improve their time-to-market and gain a competitive edge,” explained Rich Werneth, President, Computer Aided Technology, Inc., one of Objet’s leading worldwide resellers. “The capabilities of the Objet Alaris30 are not matched by any other technology available in the sub-$25,000 market. Its high precision is demonstrated by the fine details of the printed parts; the finishing of the products matches the textures intended by the designers; and the smooth model surfaces ensure best fit testing. The Objet Alaris30 has helped our customers create better designs while bringing their products to market faster and with lower costs.”

The Objet Alaris30 has been honored with a PlastPol 2009 Award. The recent T.A. Grimm & Associates, Inc. 3D Printer benchmark study found that in the sub-$25,000 3D printers market range, the Objet Alaris30 offers the best quality with the highest total accumulated marks for durability, surface finish, dimensional accuracy, and feature details.

“The Objet Alaris30 is a smart business choice for companies that require true-to-life models that significantly shorten design and development cycles and eliminate mistakes early in the process. The lower

price point provides price-sensitive buyers with an excellent option to benefit from the productivity gains offered by in-house printing with the highest quality prototypes,” concluded Gans.

Objet Alaris30 is used by hundreds of customers in multiple industries, worldwide.

*The Objet Alaris30 is available for purchase via the company’s worldwide offices or its global network of distributors. The recommended retail price is $24,900 – US dollars – (€19,900 in Europe; other international pricing may vary) and excludes options, shipping, local taxes and duties. For details, please contact your regional Objet office or Objet authorized distributors.

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Strong Attendance Expected at Canada’s Major Manufacturing Event

Toronto, Canada, June 28, 2010 — With a steady increase in manufacturing sales eight out of the last 10 months and a predicted upward trend, Canadian manufacturers are gearing up for better times ahead.

According to organizers of the upcoming Canadian Manufacturing Week (CMW)/Weld Expo 2010, this renewed sense of optimism is translating into strong interest in Canada’s preeminent manufacturing event, which will feature new industry realities and solutions as a central theme.

CMW/WeldExpo 2010 – which will take place from October 5 to 7 at the Toronto Congress Centre – is being presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in partnership with Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Welding Association, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Canadian Fluid Power Association and the Autoparts Manufacturers Association.

"Coming out of a difficult economy, Canadian manufacturers know that business as usual is not an option anymore," said Nick Samain, Event Manager, emphasizing that this year’s event will focus on new challenges and new opportunities.

"Manufacturers are looking for solutions to such issues as a high dollar, credit challenges, increased regulation and stiff global competition," Samain said. "They’re looking for knowledge and education to be leaner, more innovative and competitive, and CMW/WeldExpo 2010 will offer direct solutions to meet these challenges."

For one, an unprecedented, comprehensive education program will be presented, including keynote presentations, interactive Town Hall meetings, technical programs, one-on-one matchmaking opportunities, Canada’s Best Welder Competition, a networking reception and much more.

With more new technologies, features and partnership support than ever before, CMW/WeldExpo 2010 is expected to draw more than 5,000 manufacturers. Samain explained that the show floor will be packed with the latest innovations in advanced manufacturing, fabricating, welding, design engineering, metal forming rapid prototyping, automation, enabling attendees to source the tools and equipment they need to compete and grow their operations.

Held every two years, the event has a 20-year history of serving key manufacturing sectors across Canada including the automotive, energy, aerospace, custom fabricators, transportation and medical industries. New for 2010 is a move to the Toronto Congress Centre, to better serve exhibitors and attendees in an upgraded and more modern facility, close to all major highways, Pearson international airport and, most importantly, thousands of manufacturing facilities, Samain said.

"We are very excited with the change in venue and the significant upgrades to almost every aspect of the customer experience at CMW/WeldExpo 2010 this year," he said. "Planned for more than two years, the event is taking place at an ideal time and location for the manufacturing industry."

"With the recovery full steam ahead in the automotive and energy sectors here in Ontario and manufacturing sales on the rise month after month across Canada, we are looking at what could be the best edition of this event ever," he said.

3D Scanning Glossary

* 2D Drawing – A 2D representation of a CAD model typically complete with measurements and dimensions for use in many manufacturing processes.

* 3D Laser Scanner – A 3D scanning device that uses a laser to reflect off the part and triangulate with a camera lens, allowing the scanner to determine and create XYZ coordinates. The scanner then uses these points to form a 3D digital model of the part.

* 3D Modeling – 3D modeling refers to the creation of three-dimensional objects that are defined mathematically and geometrically (i.e. a circle extruded to a certain value to create a cylinder defined by its location, radius and length). 3D modeling can be aided by the use of scan data (see Reverse Engineering).

* 3D Scanner – 3D scanners come in many forms, but the purpose of every one of them is to capture the shape, and sometimes color, of real-world physical objects or environments. This captured data is typically stored as a list of xyz-coordinates in a point cloud file. 3D scanners can be categorized as contact (CMM arms) or non-contact (white light, 3D laser scanners, or stereo-vision based). Some can even capture internal features. "3D scanner" is sometimes mispelled as "3D scaner".

* 3D Scanning – 3D scanning is the fast and accurate process of using a 3D scanner to capture and convert physical objects into digital 3D data.

* Accuracy – The accuracy is the closeness of a measurement to the actual feature. The opposite of accuracy is uncertainty, which is an inverse perspective of the same value. See Uncertainty.

* Alignment – The process of aligning two objects in a common coordinate system. Commonly refers to aligning scan data to reference objects in inspection applications.

* As-Built – An object’s real-world condition and appearance.

* As-Designed – How the object was originally designed, usually in a CAD environment.

* Auto Surfacing – Wrapping a patch-work quilt of freeform NURBS surfaces around scan data, quickly and automatically generating surfaces.

* CAD – Computer Aided Design. CAD is a standard term defining a group of software that aides in design. CAD software is what is used for 3D modeling and to create 2D drawings. It is typically used in manufacturing or other engineering disciplines. For example: An engineer designs in SolidWorks, Pro-E, AutoCAD, CATIA, or Unigraphics; all of which are CAD or CAE programs. Often confused with CAE.

* CAI – Computer Aided Inspection. CAI is a set of technologies that convert designs into data used to run the inspection process.

* CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing. CAM is a set of technologies that convert designs into data used to run the manufacturing process.

* CAQ – Computer Aided Quality Assurance / Inspection / Control. See CAI.

* Class A – The most simple mathematical curve or surface that can describe a shape. Example: A customer requests a "Class A" IGES surface when he needs a super smooth surface typically used in aerospace or automotive applications.

* Color Map – A color plot visually representing deviations from actual to theoretical. Example: A customer requests a colormap inspection when needing to compare an as-built object to its as-designed CAD data.

* Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) – Computational fluid dynamics is the study and analysis of fluid and gas flow in a system with the use of numerical methods algorithms. Computers are required to handle the millions of calculations involved in CDF analysis with applications such as aerodynamic (wind tunnel) and hydrodynamic testing. It is common to use a 3D scanner to capture object surface data for use in such tests.

* Datum – A certain feature such as a point, line, plane, cylinder, etc. that can be used to establish the location or geometric relationship of another feature.

* Decimation – Decimation in general refers to reducing the number of samples in a population. In 3D scanning, decimation usually refers to lowering the number of triangles on a surface without distorting the detail or color. Decimation is used when there are a large number of unnecessary triangles.

* Degrees of Freedom – Describes the numbers of directions of movement and refers to how the position and orientation of an object is described relative to a coordinate system. In 3D scanning it usually consists of three linear translations (X, Y, and Z) and three rotations about the three axes (pitch, yaw, and roll).

* Deviation – As typically applied to 3D scanning, deviation refers to the difference in the size and shape of a manufactured part versus its design specifications. Deviation is easily discovered by quality inspection with the use of color maps and cross-sectional analysis found in CAI applications.

* Digital Archiving – Storing data digitally. Objects can be scanned and processed for digital archiving purposes, reducing the need to store physical parts in locations such as a warehouse.

* "Dumb" IGES – "Dumb" IGES is a term used to refer to any IGES, STEP or other surface file format. Though technically a mathematical model, it is considered "dumb" because the data contains no parametric history of the model; it is simply a surface that cannot be intelligently edited. Ex: If a cylinder is modeled in 3D and exported in .IGES file format, the cylinder cannot be edited by changing its radius or extrusion length.

* FEA – Finite Element Analysis. When a surface model is subjected to various tests to determine or establish its integrity under specified conditions.

* FEM – Finite Element Model. The creation of a mathematical surface description of an object resulting in a model ready for analysis.

* Fillet – A surface that connects two or more faces. This surface is usually an arc.

* Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerancing (GD&T) – Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing is a standard used to define the nominal geometry of parts and assemblies, to define the allowable variation in form and possibly size of individual features, and to define the allowable variation between features.

* Hybrid Surface Model – An IGES or STEP surface that usually combines auto-surfaced features with typical 3D modeling operations. Hybrid models are "dumb" because the data contains no parametric history of the model; it is simply a surface that cannot be intelligently edited. Such models have areas that are not ideally mathematical in nature, and instead are composed of NURBS surface estimates of the scan data.

* IGES – Initial Graphics Exchange Specification / System is a standard mathematical surface file, used for over 25 years in most CAD systems to mathematically represent physical data. It is the most common format for exchanging CAD data between software programs. See also STEP.

* Inspection – See Quality Inspection.

* Laser Scanner or Laser-Line Scanner – See 3D Laser Scanner.

* Legacy Part – A part that is already created or existent in the customer environment. As typically applied to 3D scanning, legacy parts usually do not have CAD data.

* Median Part Verification – When several of the same parts are scanned and the resulting data is averaged and used to create one representative 3D model. Median part verification is used to minimize the effect of manufacturing defects on the resultant model.

* Merge – Combining two or more scan data sets into one larger data set.

* Mesh – See Poly-mesh.

* Noise – Noise is the existence of extraneous recorded data within a point cloud. It can be caused by an object obstructing the sensor or ambient light and reflections into the sensor during the data capture process.

* NURBS – Non Uniform Rational Basis, or Bézier Spline. It is a mathematical model commonly used for generating and representing curves and surfaces that cannot be decimated in a uniform manner. It can also be a surface created by two or more b-splines. First developed mid-century but didn’t arrive on the desktop until 1989.

* Organized STL – Mesh data consisting of point cloud data with mathematical point spacing based on surface data. An organized STL of a cube would consist of 8 points (1 for each corner).

* Parametric Model – A data set that retains the history of how it was designed, so that modifications update all downstream features. Exchange of such models is supported by IGES. SolidWorks is a software program that is popular for creating and modifying parametric models.

* Performance Surfaces – Surfaces that are affected by certain aerodynamic and hydrodynamic forces. The shape of these surfaces is usually key to the performance of the object.

* Photogrammetry – The process of taking precise measurements by using digital pictures and coded targets. For 3D scanning purposes, the coded targets and reference markers in the picture frame serve as anchor points where scans can be aligned to. Photogrammetry ensures extremely accurate scan data. Also see Videogrammetry.

* Precision – The repeatability of performing a measurement.

* Point Cloud – A point cloud is the computer visualization of the XYZ coordinates that describe a physical object or environment. Each point represents an actual point on the object or in the environment, and collectively describes its shape and measurements. Points can be captured individually, such as with a CMM, or thousands at a time, such as with a 3D laser scanner that captures multiple point sets from different perspectives that can be merged into a cloud. Point clouds are typically represented by an unorganized STL file. Synonomous with raw scan data.

* Poly-mesh – A polygonal model that is used in 3D computer graphics. A mesh is a visualization of point cloud data that basically connects the dots to form triangles. See also STL.

* Quality Inspection – The process of evaluating a physical part and comparing it to the design specifications that are described in the object’s CAD file. Inspection is an "as built" vs "as designed" comparison. See also Deviation.

* Rapid Surfacing – See Auto Surfacing.

* Reference Markers – Adhesive backed retro-reflective dots used in 3D scanning applications to create reference points and help align pieces of scan data. Some scanners, such as the Handyscan 3D, use reference markers to position themselves in space, eliminating the need for attachment to a CMM arm or a fixed focal length.

* Registration – The process of aligning two data sets together based on known coordinates in each. Registration enables the alignment and integration of two of more point cloud data sets to complete larger models that must be captured in multiple scans.

* Rendering – A graphical representation of a computer model. It is often used to describe the visual output of CAD and Modeling software. By rendering a computer model, you can often add characteristics and effects to its surfaces and features.

* Resolution – The spacing of points in a grid. The higher the resolution, the more data that will be captured. Likewise, the lower the resolution, the "flatter" the detail.

* Reverse Engineering – Reverse engineering broadly refers to analyzing and dissecting something with the goal of recreating it. In 3D scanning, reverse engineering typically means the process of measuring an object using a 3D scanner and then creating CAD data that reflects its original design intent. This can also be done by using rulers, calipers, or a CMM. Reverse engineering is sometimes referred to as Reverse Modeling.

* Reverse Modeling – See Reverse Engineering.

* Scan – Measuring the part, capturing data, and transferring the measured points to the computer. It also refers to the computer file that is based on the physical part, i.e., xyz coordinates that represent physical measurements taken by the scanner.

* Shell – A particular operation for CAD. In 3D scanning, involves the creation of an offset surface from the original surface in order to create thickness.

* Shrink Wrap Surface Model – Refers to the way in which 3D scanning software like Geomagic, RapidForm, and Paraform fit mathematical IGES surfaces to a "physical" scan. Similar to how plastic shrinkwrap "shrinks" down onto a part being "wrapped".

* Stereo Vision – A method of capturing three dimensional data based only on cameras. An algorithm of stereo vision involves receiving inputs from two or more different cameras oriented at different angles and analyzing the differences between the images to obtain 3D information. This 3D information is easily read as a 3D point cloud.

* STEP – Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data is a comprehensive ISO data standard (ISO 10303) for the exchange of object descriptions between systems. STEP is a file format that is usually interchangeable with IGES.

* STL – Standard Tessellation Language. STL is a special internationally recognized file format that stores XYZ coordinate measurements and their normals. Gives the added functionality beyond XYZ coordinates enabling visualization of a part’s "front" and "back." STL is the standard file format for rapid prototyping, and is used in reverse engineering. See Organized STL and Unorganized STL.

* Surface – Refers to the part being scanned or to the computer file from the scanner. It typically means a computer file in IGES format. See also IGES.

* Surfacing – The process of defining or creating a surface on a CAD model. Typically refers to converting a polygonal representation of an object to a NURBS or other mathematical representation. It is the process of converting physical based 3D data to mathematical based 3D data. See also Auto Surfacing and Reverse Engineering.

* Talc – Talc powder is typically applied to translucent, reflective, or black/near-black objects during the 3D laser scanning process in order to improve the ability of the laser scanner to capture data. Talc powder is predominantly white and is usually applied with a pen or an aerosol spray. Talc can easily be wiped off and cleaned, and generally will not damage an object.

* Targets – See Reference Markers.

* Tessellation – Generally refers to filling a surface plane or surface with shapes that create no gaps or holes. In 3D scanning, this concept applies to wrapping a mesh around a CAD body. A jigsaw puzzle is a great real world example of a collection of tessellated shapes.

* Time of Flight – 3D laser scanners that calculate measurements based on the time it takes for the laser beam to detect a surface and report back.

* Touch Probe – A Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) that requires physical contact with the part to measure it.

* Triangulation – Using trigonometric functions to calculate measurements, used in certain types of 3D laser scanners to determine point locations based on transmission and reflection positions of the laser beam. In 3D modeling, triangulation also refers to the generation of triangles out of point cloud data in creating 3D surfaces.

* Uncertainty – The uncertainty is the quantity of how much a measurement is unknown compared to the actual feature. Uncertainty is the inverse perspective of accuracy, which is defined as the closeness of a measurement to the actual feature. The uncertainty essentially describes how much of a measurement is uncertain. See Accuracy.

* Unorganized STL – Mesh data based on point cloud data taken from a scan. Point spacing is based off the number and resolution of scans and not dependant on the shape or features of the object being scanned.

* Videogrammetry – The process of taking precise measurements by using video images taken from two or more video cameras taken at different angles.

* Watertight – Refers to mesh or surface data that does not contain any holes much like a real object’s ability to hold water.

* White Light Scanning (Interferometry) – Optical non-contact method for measuring physical parts. White light scanners obtain measurements of an object by determining changes in the fringe and distortion of a pattern of white light projected on an object

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3D Printing

3D printing applications are continuing to develop as the technology expands. Designers and engineers find it very useful in the creating of design prototypes. Not only does 3D printing technology offer many useful design features, but prototypes can consist of many different kinds of model materials.

Currently, fabrication materials used to produce prototypes range from resins, polymers and plasters, many new ones may be on the horizon as well. Depending on the scope of the prototype to be produced will determine which 3D printing fabrication materials designers prefer. Key factors that can influence the choice of materials used in 3D printing prototypes are model durability, expected lifespan, and the complexity of design.

3D Printing and Enhanced Product Development

Many companies rely on the use of prototypes and models produced by 3D printing for the purpose of conducting product, and focus group testing. The test groups are looking for design preferences from consumers or end-users. The feedback received is incorporated into the design during this stage of the process.

The data gained is used to make changes to the product as it is prepared for manufacture. 3D printing is a crucial tool for quickly making cost efficient design changes, and the ability to rapidly produce a new prototype. 3D printing applications for marketing and design function is able to cut the time necessary for producing a workable prototype. Time and cost savings using 3D printers can be as much as two-thirds.

Prototypes produced, tested and redesigned utilizing 3D printing is highly efficient because designs can be easily changed until the engineering is ideal. Instead of gaining performance data as a result of field failure, data can be easily gained in the design process. Inexpensive materials such as resins and polymers used in 3D printing offer the most durable prototype models, and also reduce cost. Research and development in 3D printing technology continually advances with new materials being developed all the time. This technology plays an important role in the efficient production of prototypes for research and product development.

3D Printing CAD Software Advantages

The advantage of using (CAD) software in 3D printing technology stands in stark relation to traditional prototype technology. Traditional prototyping technology employed plastic formers to create models. These required large and bulky platforms and a major financial investment for design, or engineering firms. 3D printing systems that are not only more compact, but are cost efficient to purchase and operate also. The technology has reduced the set up time, and operation requirements are easier too. This has made the technology a popular choice for many models and toy manufacturers.

3D printing stands on the forefront of many new product markets, fabrication materials, and hardware applications, both for the business and consumer markets. Advancing technologies are steadily developing and many advantages in advanced hardware, software and fabrication materials used in available rapid prototype systems have resulted.

3D printing advancements allow for the faster and more cost efficient prototype, and fabrication model. 3D printing advantages also include the elimination of expensive tooling, manpower, and the costs associated with the creation of design prototypes. All of these 3D printing advantages help firms to create the models necessary in order to bring their products to market.

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Inventor Events

You are warmly invited to the next Co-op meeting on:

Thursday, June 24, 2010 from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm
at the North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St, Toronto, Committee Room #2, lower level

Networking Session from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: remember to bring plenty of business cards for all those great connections you can make! Please, come on time, out of respect for the other people attending.

Guests are always welcome! Guest attendance fee $ 10.00

NOTE: Our meetings are always held on the last Thursday of each month.

North American Manufacturing NEWS

Studies Show Optimism as Employment Ticks up in Manufacturing
Two recent studies suggest that manufacturing in the US and around the globe is making noteworthy progress towards a rebound. With US companies forecasting growth up from 2% last quarter and 8% over the last year, we still have a long way to go but progress is progress.

Another Good Sign for North American Manufacturers, China Continues to Get more Costly
We all know there is a certain type of work that is gone for good; low tolerance, high volume parts that no matter what we do aren’t coming back to North America. However there has buzz lately about how China has been getting more costly. China’s manufacturing sector grew in May but at a slower pace, what does this mean long-term for the manufacturing economy?

We still Have a Long Road Ahead of Us
While there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel, we are still seeing plants close through-out North America. Just this week Solo announced it would close three US plants with Whirlpool closing their Benton Harbor Plant. As manufacturers, now is the time for us to focus on our customers, deliver a quality product and as always, find new ways to bring in new customers and differentiate from the competition