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STEL 3D LABS: Local Prototyping Like Never Before

Meet Santa Barbara’s Premiere 3D Printing and Prototyping Resource

At STEL, we’re dedicated to innovation and accessibility above all else. Regardless of the project or client, we foster a creative environment where innovators solve real-world problems with practical solutions. It’s for this reason that we’ve launched STEL 3D Labs, Santa Barbara’s premiere 3D printing and prototyping hub. With our influential position in the Central Coast product development community, we provide access to cutting edge technology that yields  innovative and impactful prototypes, enabling efficient delivery of products to market.

The 3D Lab was built to bring product visions to life. It’s why we started 3D printing in the first place, and why it remains an integral part of our studio today. With new technology and expert engineers, we’re streamlining the path to production and reducing expensive iteration cycles.

We Go Way Back

3D Printing within our studio dates back to STEL’s origin. Co-Founders Ryan Olson and Pete Ducato started STEL in their garage with nothing but a 3D printer and a handful of website domains. It was the beginning of our business model, to bring accessible 3D printing to Santa Barbara. We’ve come a long way since then, with our expertise evolving into full turn-key product development, leveraging 3D printing and prototyping from beginning to end.

“3D printing is integral to product design and development. It has really fostered the ability for the team to create award winning designs. Without 3D printing, and our ability to quickly iterate and learn, our designs would not be as advanced nor as quick to the market as they are.”

-Ryan Olson, STEL Co-Founder and COO

The tech-driven roots of Santa Barbara allow local product developers to quickly iterate ideas, with in-hand prototypes delivered  in a matter of days. STEL’s additive manufacturing expertise and know-how can help guide process and material selection and even prototyping strategy based on program goals. We are here every step of the way. 

Our lab has evolved from hobbyist level printers, to the professional setting it is today. As we continue to grow, our capabilities and service offerings will provide an even more impactful benefit to our customers.

“When we first started, we had printers crammed into a multi-use space that would tend to get dirty, subjecting materials to contamination. All of the post-print processes were analog and very labor intensive. Today, we have a dedicated 3D printing area in a clean, vibration-isolated and temperature-controlled environment. In this room, there are designated cleanup stations and machines to cure prints and dissolve supports, reducing hands-on time and producing more consistent, repeatable results.” 

Jared Naito, STEL Director of Engineering

The lab is built on efficiency. Touting various additive manufacturing technologies, with dedicated prep and post processing stations, STEL 3D labs is the synergy of additive manufacturing with expert designers and engineers.

Inside the Lab

In house, we have 4 dedicated 3D printers, each with their own capabilities for specific project demands. The four printers include two Formlabs stereolithography (SLA) machines, a Stratasys fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine, and a Raise3D Pro2 Plus (FDM) machine.

The high-layer resolution achievable on the Formlabs SLA printers assists engineers in evaluating form, fit, and the more intricate details of design. These printers are perfect for the most complex parts with intricate geometries ranging from concept models to functional models.

The Raise3D Pro2 Plus, one of our FDM printers, is a great value-option for faster turnarounds and quickly evaluating the forms and proportions. 

Lastly, the Stratasys F170 is our most powerful in-house machine, able to use engineering-grade materials and dissolvable supports for dynamic modeling and design flexibility.

3D printing is a critical tool in the STEL studio to put a product concept in the palm of your hand. In product development, speed and accuracy are key, and our process with 3D printing allows us to bring precisely designed products to market quickly. 

“3D Printing will give you a quicker and more accurate answer in the long run when it comes to product design. While we are able to create designs using simulations and equations, it’s a much easier process with 3D printing. You usually want to validate your designs and calculations when creating a product, and the 3D printer accurately validates that.”

Mulin Yang, STEL Mechanical Engineer

Our aim is to help local companies and entrepreneurs innovate products to their full potential by utilizing our in-house printers and expert team of engineers and designers. With our team, concepts are efficiently refined, and ultimately commercialized into real-life solutions. Having a tangible prototype allows for a smooth development process, and we strive to put that prototype into the hands of our clients to enable groundbreaking product creation.

The Power of a Prototype

3D printing is a foundational element of the STEL studio, but by no means the only element. We built our 3D Lab to make the most of our entire product design process, helping to cultivate an ecosystem for creatives in our community and beyond. We’re experts in 3D printing, prototyping, product concepting, and so much more; we are big thinkers; and this perspective percolates throughout our client relationships.

3D printing is a great way for us to begin long-lasting relationships with trusted collaborators. Some of our closest partners have come through the prototyping process, looking to bring their biggest ideas to life.

“We would not have the same client depth without 3D printing. We’ve had several clients originate from the 3D printing service, it’s been a fantastic introductory tool. ”

Jared Naito, STEL Director of Engineering

3D printing is the catalyst for a collaborative partnership. Our engineers can help create an effective prototype, as well as a prototype that’s reproducible in the manufacturing pipeline after it leaves our Lab. We want our clients to come away with something that’s not only innovative, but effective, realistic, and allows them to start bringing their product to life.

“Having access to a 3D printer in the office allows for more ‘out of the box’ manufacturing when it comes to designing the product because of minimal building restraints. You are able to create more layers within a 3D printing product, allowing for more creative solutions.” 

Everett Johnson, STEL Mechanical Engineer

We’re a local printer first and foremost, and we’ve found that the most creative ideas come from those moments at the drawing board, together. We’re ready to grow the Santa Barbara product development community, beginning with your idea. Check out STEL 3D Labs to get started. 

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