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July 10, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Technology & Innovation: 3D Printing

  |   Video
  • 3D printing has been around for a while, but it is just starting to make a big impact on mainstream society. Tempe-based Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies is a 3D printing company that was started in 1994 and offers a variety of services, including product simulation, design prototyping and medical devices. The company is also the largest distributor of 3D printing and manufacturing systems in the Southwest. Eric Miller of PADT will talk about his company and 3D printing.
  • Eric Miller - Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: 3D, printing, technology, manufacturing,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation looks at 3D printing and how this once obscure technology is now impacting mainstream society. Joining us now is Eric Miller with Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, the largest distributor of 3D printing and manufacturing systems in the southwest. Good to have you here.

Eric Miller: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What is 3D printing?

Eric Miller: 3D printing is where we take a computer model that somebody built using software, or scanned a part with a laser or something, and we take that 3D computer model and we directly print it out in a machine. So there's no machining, there's no casting, there's no molding, we just directly make the part. Like printing.

Ted Simons: I think some people are hung up on the word printing, but what you're saying, you take it from the computer screen, and what, it goes directly to a lathe, to -- It.

Eric Miller: Goes to a machine that builds it up one layer at a time. The way I like to think about it is, if you take a part and slice it a couple hundred times, and then take it apart and stack it up again, that's basically what we're doing. We're slicing it in the computer and with build one layer at a time in a machine, either by extruding a material or squirting it out with a print head, and harden it.

Ted Simons: And you're talking everything from simulated projects, to prototyping, to actual holding your hand no fooling around product.

Eric Miller: Right. So it's a full spectrum, it's been around for about 25 years. And we've been using engineering to help us with product development that whole time. So we've been using prototyping to make a copy before we go into expensive manufacturing. But in the last five or 10 years it's really broadened out to where dentists use it, if you get some sort of implant or maybe some braces, the clear braces, they may use 3D printing in that process.

Ted Simons: My goodness. And you brought along some stuff here. What have we got?

Eric Miller: This is my favorite part. This is a chess piece, and it shows the detail and the accuracy you can get with these parts. And there's no other way to make this other than 3D printing. You can see there's a stairwell going up inside of it. So there's no way to get a tool in there, pull a mold out of that. You'd have to make it in two halves and glue it together. With 3D printing we build it up one layer at a time and make just a beautiful piece out of it. That's a really nice looking thing. And the other thing that's -- That we're doing a lot more of these days is using better materials. So this is part of a turbine engine. If I wanted to test this part, it would have taken me six months to get this part made. Now I can go and have this made in about a week. And I can go ahead and take it out and get it tested.

Ted Simons: This is obviously made from something different than the chess piece was made from. Are there limitations as to what you can build?

Eric Miller: There's a lot of limitations, like everything, there's no such thing as a free lunch. We have to worry about the strength of the material, we have to worry about it shrinks when it gets built, so the accuracy is not as good as maybe we want it on the metal, where the plastic it is. Some of the material may warp in sunlight, so you have to be careful, so all these -- There's about six different technologies, and each one has a strength and a weakness. So we pick the right one for our customers.

Ted Simons: You mentioned dentistry. I see something else with a health-related theme. This strikes me as something that could really make an impact.

Eric Miller: We're really excited about personalized medicine as the future. 3D printing enables a lot of personalized medicine. This is an example of where they did a CAT scan of someone's bone, and they're going to do a replacement, they're going to put this part in there. But to get from right now they just have standard parts they pick the closest one, shove it in there. Now what we can do is the doctor can practice on the computer, he can design where he wants to cut the part, and this is a fixture that he puts his bone saw in and cuts away at the part, then he can make the actual insert out of plastic, make sure it fits, everything looks good, and then directly mold it into a metal part. So he went directly from plastic to metal. So the whole thing personalized for this person's bone.

Ted Simons: This is obviously the serious stuff, and the medical stuff, but there are now shade tree 3D guys out there that are basically building stuff in their basement with their computers? What's going on here?

Eric Miller: That's the biggest change in the last year, is the hobbyist level machine. So this -- The patent on the leading technology expired, so now people have been open source machines. And so you can build your own, or you can buy one for less than about $2,500. And you can make your own replacement parts, you can -- Pretty much do anything you want. If you can make a computer model of it, and a plastic material is OK for you, you can pretty much make anything you want in your basement.

Ted Simons: And we've heard stories of people actually making firearms through this?

Eric Miller: There's somebody that's gotten a lot of press on making a firearm. I personally would never fire it, but it shows that when you give somebody a new tool like this, they use it in ways we never thought about. And it does allow -- The big thing it allows is somebody who's not an expert machinist or an expert molding guy to make his own parts. It allows anybody without the skills of a manufacturer to do manufacturing.

Ted Simons: And I was going to say, that's got to impact a lot of areas that maybe aren't ready for that kind of impact.

Eric Miller: There's some areas we're going to have to take a look at, you know, how it impacts legislation, and how -- Certain laws that have been written assuming stuff is made with manufacturing technology, and now that somebody can make it in his garage, we have to see how that changes.

Ted Simons: How about mainstreaming affecting your business?

Eric Miller: It's affected our business quite a bit in that people who weren't aware of the technology are now aware of it. So we do a lot of work with inventors and start-ups and they were using more traditional basically cardboard duct tape methods before, and we're able now to help them and show them this technology that we've been using with large aerospace companies for decades is applicable to what they're doing as well.

Ted Simons: Do you find your company moving more from doing the manufacturing and the quote unquote printing to assisting those who want to do it for themselves?

Eric Miller: We're doing both. We sell the systems as well as provide it as a service. So we definitely have seen more people using the technology, buying the technology for themselves and then mentoring them through applying it to their very unique applications.

Ted Simons: I'm sure. So where does this technology go from here?

Eric Miller: Material, research is the big area. So getting better materials, getting stronger materials, higher temperature. Cheaper is the other thing. So pushing the price, that's for the high end people. For the low end people, it's pushing the price down so some day you can -- We have a customer in Denver that has a store that you can go into her store, storefront like right next to a beauty parlor, and you can bring in a part and say I'd like you to scan this and make a copy, we're going to see more and more of that.

Ted Simons: You've been in this business a long time. Did you ever think you'd see this level of mainstream --

Eric Miller: No. It shows the lack of imagination of technical people. This technology, we saw it applied to the way we use it, and now that more creative people are getting exposed to it it's pretty awesome.

Ted Simons: It's fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for joining us. We certainly appreciate it.

Eric Miller: Thank you.

Housing Foreclosures

  |   Video
  • The housing market in the Phoenix area has returned to normal historic levels for foreclosures. Also, prices are up 26 percent. Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, will bring us up to date on the Phoenix-area housing market.
  • Mike Orr - Director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice, W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: ASU, housing market, phoenix, foreclosures,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Foreclosure levels in the valley are back to normal, historic levels. That sounds encouraging, but what does it mean for the valley's overall housing market? For answers we turn to Mike Orr, director of the center for real estate theory and practice at ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business. OK, normal historical foreclosure levels. What's normal?

Mike Orr: Well, I've been tracking foreclosure numbers going back to 1996. So I've got a view of what's normal, and foreclosures never disappear. There's always some. You can see during normal times there's a pattern. The last time we had a normal market was back in 2001, 2002 era. And what I'm seeing is we're getting new foreclosure stats back down to the same sort of level as we were then. When you allow for the population growth, there's been since then, we should have more. So I think it's fair to say that the foreclosure stats are definitely back to normal.

Ted Simons: Foreclosures down 57% I think year to year --

Mike Orr: Yep.

Ted Simons: And the starts are down 67%.

Mike Orr: Continuing to go down each month is lower than the month before.

Ted Simons: OK. So explain what a foreclosure start is.

Mike Orr: Well, when someone gets delinquent on their mortgage, the banks usually send them some letters to remind them, and eventually they say OK, we've reminded you, now we need to give you a formal notice, a notice of trustee sale in Arizona. We don't actually have true foreclosures, which involve going to court. We have trustee sales. And that formal notice is sent out, and it warns the person that the trustee has the right to sell their house in 91 days after the notice. So that's really the start of the foreclosure process. And during that 91 days the -- Various things can happen. The homeowner can catch up, they can sell their house and pay off the loan with the proceeds, they can do a short sale, if the sale won't actually satisfy the debt, but the bank agrees to take that lower amount of money, or they can deed the home back to the bank, like a cooperative foreclosure, it's called a deed in lieu of foreclosure, but most usually what happens is the trustee sells the home by auction. That's the end of the foreclosure process.

Ted Simons: Foreclosure starts down 67%, foreclosures down 57%. And you're saying that this will continue, this trend could continue?

Mike Orr: I think we'll go below normal in the not too distant future. Probably before the end of the year, actually, because most of the foreclosures we've had in the last six years, and we've had a fairly large number, have been on loans written during a problem period where the lenders were extremely free with their money. But since 2008, they've been very tight. The lending restrictions have been -- They've only lent to people with very good credit, they've required very large down payments, and most of the homes we've bought since that period have gone up in value. So there's no negative equity. So those are going delinquent at an abnormally low rate compared to the abnormally high rate we saw earlier.

Ted Simons: What is the impact on the market overall with these fewer foreclosures?

Mike Orr: We've got fewer distressed homes coming on to the market. Most of the listings you see on the local MLS are normal sales by people who don't have to ask the bank's permission, and therefore not going to take anything less than full market value. So it means buyers are no longer in charge of the market, it's really a seller's market.

Ted Simons: Fewer homes, higher prices?

Mike Orr: Yes. And we've probably got that condition going to last for quite some time now. And that's because builders built so few homes over the last four or five years.

Ted Simons: Are they waiting for some magic signal, or are they just so burned from the last go-around they're really --

Mike Orr: I don't think they need a magic signal. They can see homes are needed, but they can't necessarily ramp up overnight. Building a home first of all you've got to have the land, the land has got to have all the facilities there, they're snapping up those sort of finished lots that were left unfinished, un-built on, but many of those have gone now, and to create a new subdivision from a fresh piece of desert or fresh farmland, that takes quite a long time. And even if they've got that, we're a little short of qualified labor to build twice as many homes.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Interesting. Investors. Last time we talked it sounded like they were starting to lose a little bit of interest. Are they still losing interest in Phoenix?

Mike Orr: It's stabilized. They were peaking July last year, it's gone down quite a bit since then over the last two or three months it's been around same level. A few people have moved away, it's still very much focused on the people buying to rent, not buying to flip. So the investors are those people who see a long-term improvement in the market, and therefore they think it will be a pretty good appreciation over the next five years, and the great thing about being a landlord is the tenant comes in and pays all your expenses and you get to keep the asset. So you kind of win both ways.

Ted Simons: Are these institutional investors we're talking about here, or the mom and pops?

Mike Orr: Mostly mom and pops. There's been a lot of fuss about institutional investors, because they're new, institutions never used to invest in single-family homes. Because it's new it's gotten a lot of attention from the media, but for every institutional investment home there's another 19 homes bought by mom and pop investors the traditional way. Just local people who decide to invest, make it their IRA or spare money that they're saving in real estate as they think that's a safer way to put it place to put it than maybe the stock market or a savings account.

Ted Simons: You mentioned earlier that banks, people are wondering whether they're going to tighten, loosen regulations. Interest rates seem to be moving a little bit. Where are they moving and what is that doing?

Mike Orr: They've moved quite a lot. I guess from around 3.5 to about 4.5 in a pretty short time. So that sent shock waves through the financial industry. There's two schools of thought about what that can do to housing. People will say it makes it less affordable, so the demand will go down. And those who say oh, no, that's going to get lots of people who are wavering off the fence thinking I better go now because it's only going to go up more. And I think both are true. You're going to see a few people drop out, but you're going to see a few other who's decide to come in. And overall I don't think it's going to have a huge effect on demand, because really the market isn't controlled by demand. It's controlled by the lack of supply. That's the thing that's really pushing the prices up, not changes in demand, it's the fact we've got so few homes to buy right now.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, as far as the weather impacting home buying season, it really does make a difference.

Mike Orr: It's the very significant difference. You see it on all my charts. By the time we get to June, there's definitely a falloff in interest, which stays down until we get to -- When temperatures go below 100 I say AH, the buyers will be coming back. The snow birds.

Ted Simons: Do you see any major changes in trends when the weather starts to cool?

Mike Orr: I think we're going to go back to the short supply, dominating the market and priceless still have to move up. We're going to have to have prices moving up until they're so high that most a-- More supply will come in.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. Always a pleasure. Good to have you here.

Mike Orr: Thank you very much.

Phoenix to Tucson Rail

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation has narrowed down the list to three possible sites for a passenger rail line from Phoenix to Tucson. Arizona Republic transportation reporter Sean Holstege will talk about the rail line as well as give us an update on the South Mountain Freeway and Interstate 11, the proposed Phoenix to Las Vegas interstate freeway.
  • Sean Holstege - Transportation Reporter, Arizona Republic
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: transportation, update, phoenix, tuscon,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The state department of transportation has decided on three possible routes for a proposed passenger rail line from Phoenix to Tucson. For more on that story and an update on a proposed interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas, we welcome "Arizona Republic" transportation reporter Sean Holstege. Good to see you again.

Sean Holstege: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: This Phoenix-Tucson rail, we narrowed these down to how many routes?

Sean Holstege: Three now. They started with six, one was a bus option and now they're down to three. They plan to get it to one by the end of the year.

Ted Simons: There are three different routes. The green, the orange, and the yellow.

Sean Holstege: That's right.

Ted Simons: Give us an explanation.

Sean Holstege: I'll try to remember which color is which. One goes down I-10, rail all the way. Everything south of Eloy will be along I-10 parallel or using union Pacific tracks. So what we're -- The differences are north of Eloy. One is the I-10 route, two are in the east valley, going through the -- Skirting or going through San Tan Valley, and there's different variations of the theme there.

Ted Simons: Why were these were particular routes as we're seeing them on screen, why were they chosen over others?

Sean Holstege: The characteristics. How long it will take to travel, what sort of ridership can they expect. They haven't done firm estimates yet, but they have a sense of what the market will bear. And because -- Back up. In all cases they're also tying into a plan to connect with commuter rail. We talked about commuter rail in the valley, they're hooking into that study, so those options work the best because they carry people from the far east valley into town, they can't take advantage of light rail because of the nature of the system.

Ted Simons: Because it does look like the yellow and the orange are concentrating on the east side of the valley. As opposed to the I-10 with the green?

Sean Holstege: Part of it has to do with expected growth. You just had Mike talking about that. The far east valley is expected to see a lot of growth, and there's a lot of development proposal out there. So these rail lines, if they choose -- The east valley options would be able to serve those developments both of those are expected to tie in to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport.

Ted Simons: When they say they're all -- Each one is a blended service, what does that mean?

Sean Holstege: They have in their -- ADOT in their presentation talks about express service and local service. Depending on how they -- The engineering of the tracks, some trains will stop at every stop, all the way from Phoenix to Tucson. Some will take a straight shot and stop at select stations along the way. And when they do the more refined model they'll figure out which makes more sense.

Ted Simons: Like the, press cars in New York in the subway system. So what's next? Environmental study? What happens next?

Sean Holstege: They still have to finish this study. That will be the end of the year. And at that point they will have firm estimates precise estimates on ridership, better handle on the cost, right now it's -- They say anywhere from 5-10 billion. Just the breadth -- That's a large window. They're going to have a better idea what each line will cost, and a better idea how many people will ride it.

Ted Simons: So to make it clear, there's no construction schedule obviously yet, and there really isn't any funding yet.

Sean Holstege: There isn't even any funding for the next level of study, which is what you just asked me. EIR engineering, all that stuff has to come and that's going to take even more funding they don't already have. So again, this is a long-term ambitious project, but that's where we are in Arizona.

Ted Simons: We're also looking at an interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas. I know there's a transportation report that basically said build this thing. Talk to us about this.

Sean Holstege: Essentially -- The discussion we just had, they have a plan to build an interstate from Phoenix to Las Vegas, it would take a route from Wickenberg south and west -- East around far to the extreme south and west of the valley. The idea is to get as much traffic between here and Vegas, and again, accommodate that growth and move the freight. Because they're looking at how much more freight traffic will be moving from Canada and Mexico through the intermountain west. So that's one half -- Dimension. The other dimension is that's also the fastest growing part of the country. And it's expected to continue to be among the fastest growing parts of the country. So where do you stick all those people and how do you move them and get them goods and services? So the report that just came out was, this is why we need the interstate.

Ted Simons: And to be clear, we're talking entertainment from Vegas to Wickenberg and looping the south side down to Casa Grande?

Sean Holstege: Right. None of this -- These are blobs on a map, not lines on a map, that's another thing to determine but essentially if you go out to Palo Verde, if you cross the river, somewhere rest of that river is where we're talking about tying in on the west side, and it will curve behind the Estrella mountains and somewhere tie in Casa Grande.

Ted Simons: And the idea again would be Phoenix and Vegas and connecting with Los Angeles, and is this -- I keep seeing this southwest triangle referenced in these reports is that what we're talking about?

Sean Holstege: That's what they're talking about. They look at that as an integrated sort of super economy regional economy. The long-term ambition, which this is why it has legs in the senate, including Barbara boxer, I-5 is congested through California, Oregon, and Washington, the next best shot is up the front range and the next best shot going north-south is in Texas. How do you get goods up to Canada into places like Idaho if all those roads are congested? So the U.S. senate is interested in the long-term theory that you extend it beyond Vegas. And you run up the east side of the Sierra and the big basin, all the way up to Canada.

Ted Simons: That makes sense. Also as we said in our last discussion, no construction schedule as yet and no funding as yet.

Sean Holstege: We're talking many of billions of dollars. That's one of the option may be a toll road. That's why it starts to get politically touchy.

Ted Simons: The South Mountain freeway, what's being done with that? I know we're -- Something's got to be close with that, because I'm hearing more voices saying no, no, no.

Sean Holstege: We're at the beginning of the end. ADOT has -- It is three weeks away, less, and the end of the month it will be done with its draft environmental statement. They've taken public commenter and they'll prepare final report sometime next year. We're talking about early 2015 to build it. This unlike the other projects, is fund and is planned. The problem is it's a very political issue, and so what happened recently was the effort to move it on to the Gila River Indian community was stymied by a vote by the tribal council, which basically denied a petition to make that happen.

Ted Simons: I think you wrote if it does go on the reservation, that's another year added on to the study.

Sean Holstege: Yeah, or more. It's a complication. But at this point it looks like that option now looks dead.

Ted Simons: And -- Oh, really? OK. I-10 and Pecos, then south of South Mountain out to 59th Avenue? Is that --

Sean Holstege: Correct. Well, out on the west side they have three options. On the east side there's only one. Pecos or nothing. On the west side 59th and two other options as far as 101st, they -- But their favorite option is 59th Avenue and that looks like the one they'll pick.

Ted Simons: 59th and I-10. You certainly are busy. Thanks for joining us.

Sean Holstege: Always a pleasure.