A local father and son are breaking new ground in high-tech manufacturing. Scott and Zack Vader of East Amherst have developed a machine that prints metal parts.
About five years ago, Zack Vader was a University at Buffalo engineering student who couldn't find the right parts for a project he was working on. So, he quit UB to make a machine that could get the job done. That machine, the 24-year-old says, is the world's first 3D liquid-metal printer.
"It's only been in the lab previously, about 20 years ago, and this is the first time business is being made with that. And it has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing," said Vader, who, along with his mechanical engineer father, Scott Vader, formed Vader Systems in 2012.
The first prototype was developed in the basement of their home. They now have nine full-time employees and work out of the CrossPointe Business Park in Getzville.
Scott Vader, age 55, says compared to other current technology, the Vader System is much faster, much cheaper, and of equal or better quality than existing 3D printers. It uses inexpensive wire like the kind sold in hardware stores.
"Typically 3D printers that most people are used to print in plastic," Scott explained.
"Ours prints in aluminum. Prints in metal. So you can do a lot more with 3-D printed parts made out of aluminum. You could do golf clubs. You could do parts for cars, parts for planes."
Scott says eventually astronauts will be able to print parts they need on other planets. The machines sell for about $400,000. The Vaders plan to deliver their first one next month to the Rochester Institute of Technology.