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Building A Business

The Beegles are pursuing their dreams through 3-D printing.

- Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Beegles are pursuing their dreams through 3-D printing.

Jeff and Mindy Beegle are doing something they’ve always wanted to do. In the summer of 2015, they opened their own business, Dimension Works, inside the Power Plant Business Incubator in downtown Ocala.

“We both left our solid, comfortable careers,” Jeff says. “It was a big decision.”

There wasn’t one defining moment that pushed them to make the decision, either. They knew they wanted to own their own business and had looked at several different industries. When they discovered the niche for 3-D printing, they narrowed their research. Mindy has a background in business and marketing, and she worked at Signature Brands for 14 years before Dimension Works opened. Jeff’s background in machinery, tooling and plastics design had him working at Hale Products, Inc. for 15 years. With their areas of expertise, 3-D printing just made sense.

A few years ago, Jeff and Mindy attended RAPID, a 3-D printing and additive manufacturing trade show, in Long Beach, California, where they decided to partner with EnvisionTEC, a manufacturer of 3-D printers that use UV light to cure photopolymer resin. Jeff and Mindy have two EnvisionTEC printers—a desktop one they take to shows for demonstrations and a larger one that’s about 6 feet tall. Both printers can achieve excellent precision through liquid resin. The resin is cured by UV light, so there is no temperature component involved. Jeff dips the corner of a sheet of copy paper into the resin and demonstrates how this works with a UV flashlight. Within seconds, the resin hardens into place. Jeff and Mindy have five materials in-house that they can use to achieve different qualities per product, but there are about 40 materials available to them through EnvisionTEC. They’re able to print ready-to-use products, along with prototypes.

Their final printer takes up the entire back part of the printing room. It’s a 3-D platform printer that uses a filament to build products as big as 1 meter by 1 meter by 1/2 meter. The plastic filament melts into layers on the tabletop platform. There’s a giant gear in the corner of the office as an example of how big these printed products can be. It printed for four days straight, but building time varies by product.

Jeff and Mindy print tiny, detailed parts and products, as well. Jeff holds out the printed version of an engagement ring setting. He explains that a jeweler would take this ready-to-use product, dip it in ceramic, melt out the printed product and pour the desired metal into the new ceramic ring mold. Essentially, the printed product was a precise and easily replicated mold for a mold, lessening the work time of hiring an artist to carve one out.

Jeff’s and Mindy’s skill sets work well together. Mindy calls and visits clients, reviews finances and handles the budget, and Jeff designs and builds products. Depending on the client’s needs, Jeff can help them create and complete designs.

“Some [clients] have no in-house design abilities,” Jeff says. “I design the 3-D models in SolidWorks.”

Once the design is finished, the file is sent to the printer, and the process begins. Jeff and Mindy maintain a quick turnaround for their clients and are constantly working on different projects. Products range from kitchen gadgets to medical devices, and business has been steady.

“One of the things I really like is that every day is different,” Mindy says.

“We don’t know what we’ll be working on in the next two weeks,” Jeff adds. He can start the day building a certain product and then begin a completely different one in the afternoon.

Being entrepreneurs and business owners for the first time has been an adjustment for the couple, but their involvement in the Power Plant Business Incubator has really helped.

“They provide access to lawyers and other professional services,” Mindy says.

It’s helped them build connections and has taught them some of the aspects of being entrepreneurs that they weren’t familiar with. Jeff and Mindy are also members of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, the Mid-Florida Manufacturers Association and the Volusia Manufacturers Association. Being connected with manufacturers through these associations is one of the main ways they expand their clientele, even to several national companies.

“There are global companies we’ve been able to work for that we never would have imagined happening,” Mindy says.

But it’s a lot of work. They put in a minimum of 40 hours each week, depending on orders. Jeff willsometimes work late into the night, but it’s different putting the work in for himself rather than for someone else. Any given day, Jeff will usually arrive to work around 7:30am, and Mindy will take care of getting their two boys, ages 6 and 3, off to school before coming in around 8:15am.

“There’s more flexibility but more responsibility,” Mindy says.

They’re already looking at plans to expand in the future.

 

Learn more Dimension Works Located inside the Power Plant Business Incubator › (352) 612-0080 › dimension.works




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