The GSA Advantage: Part 1

As a self-identified “knower of totally random facts” I pride myself on the amount of odd pieces of information that happens to be floating around in my brain.  And while I did have some idea about what GSA was; going through the process of getting awarded a GSA Contract for re:3D was one heck of a learning experience.

So lets start simple, what is the GSA?

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an agency within the federal government that helps the government to function.  That is their job in the most basic and simple terms I could come up with.  Government real estate (leasing and management), government acquisition services (procurement and contracting), plus best practices and policy guidance, all of these things fall under the GSA, and I am sure there are loads of other functions that I don’t even know about.

I was most familiar with the GSA through their GSA Auction website.  Do you ever wonder where you can buy an airplane, old refrigerators, and 5 barrels of spent brass shell casings?  Why the answer is simple – bid on it, the GSA is selling!!  GSAAuction.gov sells anything and everything that the federal government and it’s agencies no longer want.  I personally enjoy the listings for old lighthouses, I mean – who doesn’t want to own a lighthouse? My favorite listing by far was the lighthouse for sale (which had multiple bidders!) that had a Coast Guard maintained fog horn which operated a decibels “higher then recommended for the human body” – It would be like music to my ears as I sipped margaritas in my lighthouse cupola.

Why was it important for re:3D to get onto a GSA Contract?

Selling to the federal government is difficult.  We recognized that we had more and more interest from different federal agencies who wanted to purchase Gigabot.  These purchases took a long time, because the government buyer would have to get through a lot of red tape and a lot of different hoops in order to purchase our products.  So in the interest of saving our buyers time, we took on the task of becoming a government contractor and getting on a Multiple Award Schedule.

What is a Multiple Award Schedule?

A Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is basically a category that government contractors apply to sell in.  For instance, re:3D is in Schedule 36. Schedule 36 is The Office, Imaging, and Document Solutions category, and within each schedule are sub-categories or Special Item Numbers (SIN), in our case SIN: 51.400 – 3D Printing Solutions. So to put it all together, and really test our acronyms – re:3D is a MAS 36 SIN 51.400 GSA Contract Holder – hooray!

What does that mean for me?

The answer to that, as always, is: it depends.

Are you just a person, with no government connections? Then this post is really just informative, and won’t have any real bearing in your day-to-day life, but stay tuned because I will follow-up with an even more in-depth meat and potatoes post about getting a government contract -real edge of your seat reading.

Are you part of a government agency or subcontractor who is allowed to purchase products through GSA? Do you need a Gigabot 3D Printer? Then you’re in luck!

The reason companies are required to go through the GSA contract procedures are numerous, but the most important one for the government is the guarantee that the government buyers are getting the best price possible.  Which means that all pricing of all products is pre-negotiated with your assigned GSA Contracting Officer (Hi, John!).

Contract awardees (that’s us!) are then able to upload their products onto the GSA Advantage website (gsaadvantage.gov), think of it as Amazon for the federal government.  Government buyers can then search for products to purchase, everything from pens, to desks, to 3D Printers can be purchased through the GSA Advantage website.

Through the GSA Advantage we have created Federal Packages, available only through GSA.  These packages include Gigabot (Standard, XL, XLT), the wheeled cart, PrintinZ, Simplify3D, 3 Year Warranty, and CONUS shipping.  Printing HUGE has never been easier to attain for government buyers!

Over the next year we are going to be putting a lot of effort to marketing our products to government buyers.  It isn’t enough just to get onto a Schedule Contract, you actually have to sell if you want to keep your contract.  Our goal is to look for opportunities to speak and exhibit at government-centric events this year, with the hopes of talking to the right people to make some sales!

Look out for part two of my blog about GSA, where we will go a little bit more in depth about the process of getting onto a contract, everything from eOffer, to SIP, to SAM.gov.

Happy Printing!

~Mike

michael.straong@re3d.org

 

Additive Value for Your Subtractive Manufacturing

Below is Gigamachinist’s Steve Johnson’s first blog on 3D printing for re:3D’s Gigabot fabrication shop.

 Additive Value for Your Subtractive Manufacturing

by Steve Johnson

You may be thinking: “Why would a machine shop need a 3d printer?”

Turns out there are a lot of uses! In my case, we needed to make new fixtures to take advantage of the capabilities of our new 4th axis and the full travel of our machine.  When making fixtures, cost is always a main concern, and making a bad fixture can be expensive in terms of both material and man hours.

solimachinemodel

By using re:3D’s Gigabot 3D printer, we were able to design our fixture in Solidworks, export the model, and print a full size model of the fixture overnight on Gigabot (no time wasted).

machineprint

This morning, we tapped the holes for our cam clamps, put the printed fixture into the machine, and checked for clearance and travel issues. In the process we found two issues that we corrected in the solid model, and we are now printing the revised test fixture.

machineprintfinish

Without the benefit of Gigabot, we may have wasted a 4in diameter by 20in long piece of material, as well as hours of labor. Right now, our only cost has been a few dollars worth of plastic.

machineprintset

This experience has been a great opportunity for me to learn Solidworks and I’m looking forward to using Gigabot again to cut costs, create efficiencies, and to have fun in the shop!

~Happy Printing!

  • steve@re3d.org

 

OpenERP—Taking Organization to A Whole New Level

Hello again! In this blog I will be discussing a behind-the-scenes technology called OpenERP that helps keep re:3D running smoothly and efficiently.

Did you know that there are over 1000 pieces in a Gigabot?

The re:3D warehouse has to keep track of inventory and make sure Gigabot pieces never run out. Last summer, re:3D started using a new system called OpenERP to do just that.

What can OpenERP do?

OpenERP is a software that has the power to organize an entire company. It manages the whole gamut from accounting, purchases, and inventory to keeping track of demand. It is structured in modules, and Erik Hausmann is striving to help re:3D make full use of its capabilities. Erik compares OpenERP to a “Swiss Army Knife for business” because it is highly valued for its integrative nature. It not only facilitates transactions in the warehouse, but it also increases re:3D’s small business efficiency overall.

Who is Erik Hausmann?

He’s our Innovation Ninja (formally Technology Innovation Officer or TIO). He manages our OpenERP. He spent six years in Deloitte Consulting working with SAP ERP for Fortune 100 companies in some of the largest systems in the world.

Who is Davydd Kelly?

Davyyd is an exchange student from Australia–he handles all the barcoding in our warehouse. Davydd is an expert in JSON and other open standards. He is working diligently to further refine warehouse processes.

Erik uses Ramen to Explain a Function of OpenERP

Erik survived on Top Ramen as a college student. One day, he looked in his cupboard and saw ten packets of ramen. He knows it takes a good chunk of time to go to the grocery store, so he sets aside an entire day for the purpose of restocking. He knows he should go shopping when he has one or two packets of ramen left as a safety buffer against hunger.

As analogously applied to the warehouse, it is impractical to go looking into hundreds of cupboards to count Gigabot parts everyday. But OpenERP , an MRP (material replenishment planning system), can do all this automatically. While taking into account numerous delaying factors, it can order new shipments when the inventory of a certain type of part runs too low, meaning that a quantity has reached a set minimum. Moreover, OpenERP can even make forecasts about predicted inventory levels.

OpenERP as a Purchasing Tool

Major steps in finalizing a purchase include finding a lead (a likely customer), making a quotation, putting in an order, creating an invoice, and confirming delivery.

OpenERP is also a great tool for re:3D staff when working with customers. OpenERP can make quotes, record factors to an opportunity prediction (ex. There is a 90% this customer will buy our product), add and subtract products, and input discounts or tax. Not to mention it can also create invoices, confirm purchases, and oversee delivery. All this can be done in about five minutes for a quick user. You can find free invoice templates at www.bill.com.

Re:3D is excited to be using OpenERP and will be looking forward to expanding its own systems in the future while living by the open source standard they support.

Keep on printing,

–Sunny

Intern.Obj

openerpblog2

Special Thanks to Erik Hausmann (@ErikHausmann)

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