Introducing Joe Lutgen, the 2013 DE-Stratasys Rapid Ready Sweepstakes Winner

Joe Lutgen, RSI Mechanical LLC, is the winner of 2013 Desktop Engineering Stratasys Rapid Ready Sweepstakes. He sits down for an interview with DE senior editor Kenneth Wong.

Joe shows off the custom-designed cage he printed with the Mojo he won. The cage allows him to easily retrieve and inspect 3D-printed parts from the rinsing solution in the WaveWash unit that comes with the Mojo.

Joe’s 3D-printed Christmas ornaments contribute to the Lutgen household’s holiday spirit.

In the wee hours of one morning, Joe Lutgen came across the Mojo 3D printer, priced around $9,900 retail. Joe, who owns and runs his own engineering consulting business RSI Mechanical LLC, is no stranger to 3D printing. He has used it while working with clients in the medical equipment, automotive, and aerospace sectors.

“Maybe I have a shot at this,” Joe thought. So he entered his name. A few weeks later, he received a call from DE‘s publisher Tom Conlon. That’s how Joe found out he was about to become the owner of a brand new Mojo.

Joe recalled working on a start-up company’s design for a device that attaches to a hand. “We went through probably 70 iterations just on that one design. 3D printing, SLA — the [prototyping] methods we used were extremely important,” he said. “The ergonomics of the hand played a role in the device. It was critical that we turn around an idea in a couple of days.”

For manufacturers without in-house production facilities, turning ideas into tangible mockups is no quick act. Even with the dramatic speed and flexibility offered by 3D printing nowadays, Joe knows the process still takes about three to four days at service bureaus. Now that he has a Mojo at his disposal, Joe plans to augment his consulting business with printing services.

“My hope is to develop a small printing service for [clients], so if they have components from other engineers or from myself, I’ll be able to print their parts overnight.” When that becomes a viable business, Joe may expand from a single Mojo to multiple 3D printers.

Part of Joe’s prize was the WaveWash 55, a unit for rinsing off support materials from printed parts. The first thing Joe printed on his Mojo was a custom-designed basket for checking the rinse progress and retrieving components from the rinse chamber. (Think of it as sieve to catch and check on 3D-printed parts during the rinsing process.)

Joe has three sons — the three special clients he may be supplying free printing services to for years to come. Since they’re fans of the Minecraft video game, they put the Mojo to use by printing Minecraft avatars found at a 3D content site. “I want to get them started on possibly becoming an engineer like myself,” Joe said. He plans to offer his sons’ robotic class free printing services.

Stratasys‘ tagline for the Mojo as “the idea engine” is a fitting description for how Joe plans to use his prize. “As an engineer, someone with an inventive mind, I’d go around the house and think of how I could do things better. With this printer, I can now create the idea in CAD and print it out and try it. Maybe I need a cellphone holder for my bike,” he contemplated. “The ability to create what you think is the best solution and print it out — to me, that’s amazing.”

Over the years Joe has had many ideas. Some are fleeting thoughts; others could be promising and patent-worthy product concepts. “But I’ve never taken them to market,” he said. “This [Mojo] gives me an opportunity to work on those inventions that are in the back of my mind. Now I have no more excuse. I need to start working on the ideas I want to get out to the public, to the market. It’s an opportunity for me to create whatever I come up with in a short amount of time,” he reasoned.

Since the arrival of the Mojo coincides with the holiday season, the machine also contributed to the family’s Christmas spirit. In the living room of the Lutgens’ Southern California home, a number of 3D-printed ornaments dangle from the Christmas tree.

DE would like to thank Geoff Huston of Cross Spectrum Media (otherwise known as Joe’s nephew) for capturing the arrival of the Mojo in video and granting permission to reuse the footage as part of the video below.

You can contact Joe’s business, RSI Mechanical LLC by emailing joe.lutgen [at] rsimechanical.com.

For the interview with Joe, watch the video below:

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