Nestled in a small suite on the southwest edge of Garden City is a 3D printing company manufacturing everything from horror movie props and fishing reels to motorcycle parts, tater tot stamps and prosthetics.
Intermountain 3D specializes in 3D design
, engineering, prototyping and production printing. Owners Lynn and Brian Hoffmann have been in the business of bringing ideas to life since 2014. Typically operating with businesses in the industrial, recreation technology, medical, and art industries, the team will often work with customers for months a time, ensuring the final product iteration is perfected.
“It happens frequently that people will bring in fully- or partially-attempted ideas,” said Brian. “They have a concept that they’ve taken as far as they can go on their own, and they need our help to get them across the finish line.”
The process generally starts with a product development engineer, entrepreneur, designer or other maker sending Intermountain 3D a CAD file for evaluation. Understanding what goals the engineer is hoping to achieve allows the company to determine which material and 3D printing technology is best suited to the desired results.
“At that point, the process really becomes circular,” Brian said. “We print the prototype, tweak the features, print another prototype, tweak the features, and keep going until we get to exactly the right design.”
For engineers and entrepreneurs who aren’t able to invest tens of thousands of dollars in high-volume manufacturing molds, the prototyping cycle and the ability to revise quickly without retooling is where the true value of 3D printing lies.
In addition to prototyping, Intermountain 3D does a considerable amount of work in reverse engineering, meaning they turn physical parts – sometimes as large as a motorcycle or nose of an airplane – into digital drawings.
“There are very few other 3D printing and engineering companies like ours in Idaho,” said Lynn. “By focusing on commercial-grade printing, we’re able to meet the needs of the largest corporations in our region as well as small start-ups and even personal projects
Finding that niche and operating a successful business for the last six years didn’t happen by accident. As Hewlett Packard retirees, the Hoffmanns came to the manufacturing industry with a wealth of knowledge.
“We had never actually worked together, but we knew that Brian’s engineering and technical background combined with my business background allowed us to be on the forefront of this technology,” Lynn said. “And compared to traditional manufacturing or machining, 3D printing really is a technology-oriented industry.”
Whether it’s printing, machining or assembly line work, the Hoffmanns[L1] believe that manufacturing is vital to maintaining a vibrant, stable economy.
“Manufacturing jobs tend to be sustainable because of the capital investment required,” said Brian. “They quietly contribute a lot to the economies around them, especially in Idaho, for example, where agricultural technology employs more people than the actual farms do.”
As charter members of the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance, Lynn and Brian emphasize the importance of advocacy and awareness on behalf of Idaho’s manufacturing industry, especially to members of the legislature.
“Just knowing there’s an organization like this for manufacturers to share their needs and ideas with is important,” Brian said. “In order to have people gather under a tent, you first have to have a tent. That’s why we’re excited and continue to be excited about IMA.”
Visit Intermountain 3D at 9225 Chinden Blvd, Suite F, Boise, Idaho, or at their home on the web: www.intermountain3d.com.