TechHelp Executive Director, Steve Hatten

TechHelp Executive Director, Steve Hatten

NPD Lab History

The NPD Lab at Boise State University was founded in 1999 by TechHelp’s current Executive Director, Steve Hatten (left). Born and raised in Boise, the University of Idaho graduate was working as a mechanical engineer at Boeing in Seattle when he began looking for opportunities to move back to Boise with his wife to grow a family.  TechHelp’s Director at that time, Gary Thompson, was looking for ways to better serve Idaho manufacturers and saw a need for services that would meet the needs of Idaho’s growing community of inventors who were spinning out of local tech firms such as HP and Micron. These inventors tended to have great ideas and entrepreneurial skills but they sometimes had limited access to skilled design and engineering services. Thompson saw an opportunity to tap into the engineering expertise, equipment and resources sitting right across the street from him at the Boise State College of Engineering (COEN).  Hatten, with design skills honed at Boeing and an advanced degree from Stanford, proved to be the right guy to take Thompson’s idea and run with it.

Thompson & Hatten worked with professors at COEN to secure an EDA grant that paid for an early stage 3D printer. Little did they know when they found a spot for the printer on the fourth floor of the Micron Engineering Building that the President of the United States would one day visit their obscure operation.

With a 3D printer, some design software and a room, Hatten began to build the program around a model that still exists. He hired COEN’s best and brightest mechanical engineering students to work as employees for TechHelp. These would not be internships that revolved around the academic calendar but real jobs with real companies that paid real wages. It was a model that met everyone’s needs. The students could learn engineering and work on real engineering projects in the same building where they went to school. TechHelp NPD clients loved the fact that they could sit right next to their NPD student engineers and guide them in the product design process.  Another plus was that all NPD work was overseen by Hatten or experienced NPD staff. In short order, local inventors had the ways and means to explore product concepts, design and redesign products in programs such as SolidWorks and rapidly create prototypes using 3D printers.

NPD Lab Services

TechHelp’s Direct Prototyping Services include the quoting, processing, fabrication and delivery of parts using Additive Layering Technologies, CNC milling processes and RTV mold making capabilities. 

Additive Layering Technology:  The NPD Lab operates two professional grade 3D printers.

3D Systems Viper2 – Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA)

Blaise Lawless of TechHelp and Boise State is an artist who can put a show-ready finish on any prototype.

Blaise Lawless of TechHelp and Boise State is a real artist with a sharp eye for design who can use his unique skills to put a show-ready finish on any prototype.

SLA Materials: We offer three resin choices from DSM Somos for printing parts on our SLA:


TechHelp can print extremely intricate parts in a variety of materials that will best meet a client’s needs.

Somos Watershed XC 11122 is a low viscosity liquid photopolymer that produces strong, tough, water-resistant, ABS-like parts. Parts created with 11122 are nearly colorless, and look more like true, clear engineered plastic. 11122 Data Sheet

Somos 14120 is a low-viscosity liquid photopolymer that produces strong, tough and water-resistant parts. Parts created with14120 have a white, opaque appearance similar to production plastics. 14120 Data Sheet

Somos NanoForm 15120 is a nanoparticle liquid material that produces strong, stiff, high temperature resistant parts. Parts created with 15120 have an opaque gray appearance. 15120 Data Sheet


3D Systems Projet 3500 HD Max – MultiJet Printer

The ProJet 3500 HD Max is the latest addition to TechHelp's prototyping tool chest.

The ProJet 3500 HD Max is the latest addition to TechHelp’s prototyping tool chest.

In 2015, TechHelp added some serious horsepower to its 3D printing portfolio by purchasing a ProJet® 3500 from its partner, Intermountain 3D in Garden City, ID.  The ProJet® 3500 is ideal for creating durable, high-definition functional prototypes, rapid toolingprojet parts such as injection molds and casting patterns and end-use parts.  The high-capacity printer offers greater productivity, especially with the high-speed printing mode, and larger high definition prints for the production of functional plastic parts.

Multi-Jet Materials:  We offer two material choices from 3D Systems for printing parts on our 3500 printer:

VisiJet M3 Black is a material that produces parts with high strength and flexibility properties. Parts created with this material have a matte black finish.

VisiJet M3-X is an ABS like plastic material.

3500 MultiJet Product Data Sheet Link:  VisiJet Data Sheet



Pricing for 3D Printed Parts

For standard orders we charge the following:

  • A one-time set-up fee ranging from $35 – $100 depending on the complexity of the order.
  • We charge $30 – $35 per cubic inch of material cost, depending on the machine and material selected.
  • We charge $4-$8 per part for post processing work.

Pricing Example –  An order for quantity 1 of a part with a material volume of 1 cubic inch, made on our Stereo Lithography Apparatus would cost on the low end $50 + $30 + $6 = $86. If more parts are desired on the order, you could expect to pay $36 for each additional one. If you decided to purchase more of the same parts at a later date, you could expect to be charged the original set-up fee again, depending.

We are happy to provide a quote free of charge at any time for any given number of parts, combinations, and materials. For direct quoting and more information on our prototyping services contact the NPD lab at 208-426-5635 or contact Blaise Lawless at the lab number or at

Special Surface Finish Requirements and Assembly

TechHelp is unique in having a full time artist on staff, Blaise Lawless, who can create high end paint and surface finish treatments for your models along with design and fabrication

TechHelp created a number of prototypes for Melni Connectors, some of which were featured on Shark Tank and viewed by President Obama during his visit to the Lab.

TechHelp created a number of prototypes for Melni Connectors, some of which were featured on Shark Tank and viewed by President Obama during his 2015 visit to the Lab.

services for special joinery and assembly features. This allows us to create models that look and feel like actual production parts in sizes and scales that can extend beyond the limitations of our machines. Lead times for special orders will vary. Feel free to request a custom quote for your project.

The prototypes produce by TechHelp were so realistic that experienced electrical industry executives at trade shows thought they were the real thing!Mark Melni of Melni Connectors

Lead Times – Many of our customers rely on us for our close attention to detail and quick turnaround time. For the average order we guarantee a 5-7 business day lead time. In reality, we often do much better. We will be glad to work with you on your specific project needs and deadlines.

Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) – The RTV mold making process allows us to make low volume production parts with material offerings ranging from hard urethane plastic to elastomeric rubber parts. This process involves multiple steps from start to finish, and requires special conditions and longer lead times for part curing and finishing

RTV Pricing- Our pricing for these services is dependent on a number of factors that may include a combination of student or TechHelp specialist hourly rates for mold design and fabrication, plus material costs.

We will be glad to provide an estimate upon request.

CNC Mill –  Our lab is equipped with a Tormach CNC mill and lathe that allows us to make precision parts for prototype fabrication.

Contact Information:

For direct quoting and more information on our prototyping services contact the NPD lab at 208-426-5635. You can contact Blaise Lawless at the lab number or at