Here in our blog, we have written many articles about rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. We have also looked at the industries and areas where rapid prototyping can help in lowering costs and cutting lead-times. In this article, we’ll show you 5 real world examples where rapid prototyping has helped companies to achieve better results and surpass the competition.
Fender Musical Instruments
Fender is an American Manufacturer of amplifiers and string instruments and mostly known all over the world for its famous Stratocaster used by many musicians like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. The Fender was founded in 1946 and has an international reputation for its famous electric, acoustic guitars and warm toned amplifiers. What is not very well known is that Fender uses in-house 3D printing for its rapid prototyping needs. Previously, Fender was using an external service for rapid prototyping its instruments’ parts, but a lead-time of about two weeks was too much for Fender to cope with. So they decided to purchase Stratasys industrial 3D printers and do it in-house. Fender now 3D prints prototypes overnight. According to the company, 3D printing one cubic inch of material costs about $4 USD. This is significantly less than they had to pay before moving the process in-house.
They utilize this technology for designing say new knobs on their amplifiers, new designs for guitars and much more. Their design team is not just the only group that is happy about this in-house capability. Marketing is thrilled too. For example, they can have a marketing and design meeting to discuss some new ideas and concepts and by the end of the day or next morning have a prototype. This accelerates their innovation and new product development enormously.
Ford saves millions of dollars through 3D printing for its rapid prototyping purposes. According to the company, it saves up to $439k and months of lead-time through rapid prototyping. Ford makes a great selection of its original prototypes by 3D printing. It takes only a few hours to 3D print the prototypes, whether they are metal or plastic. This enables Ford to determine in less than 24 hours whether a specific part is worth the trouble or not.
Just last year, Ford used this technology on their new GT which was received quite well by the press and consumers. Ford designers used a series of prototypes to refine and perfect the square-shaped F1-style steering wheel that included integrated transmission paddle-shift controls and driver controls. Additionally, this car had a pair of lightweight structural components designed to cut down the weight of the cars upward-swinging doors and the door controls.
Due to their history of R&D and 3D designs, Ford has a huge inventory of digital assets for just about every Ford ever manufactured. These files were archived away primarily for the design team to reference, but Ford is now making many of these digital assets available for the general public. The Ford 3D Store, the first automaker authorized store for 3D-printable files, allows customers to purchase or download detailed 3D models of several of their top selling cars, including the All-new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor and the 2016 Shelby GT 350R. They also teamed up with Turbosquid to sell over a thousand highly detailed 3D models of cars from their hundred-plus year history.
Unlike Ford, Worrell is not very well known among mainstream consumers. It is mainly a B2B company that focuses on design and development processes and ideas. Its design department has made prototypes for hundreds of large companies, including Biosense Webster, Mayo Clinic, Honeywell, and Samsung. According to the company, its 3D printers help to save money and time in the rapid prototyping process. They claim that 3D printed molds can be made in 2 days maximum, while traditional methods have an average lead-time of 6 weeks.
Brightwake is also a development and research company and one of their products is a revolutionary blood recycling machine called Hemosep. Every year thousands of people die of blood loss when they are on the operating table. Some of these people refuse to receive blod from donors for certain religious beliefs, so this invention essentially helps to save the blood lost during surgery so that it can be put back into the patient to help save their life.
To make models and prototypes of the device’s main parts, they used 3D printing for rapid prototyping. According to the company, with additive manufacturing techniques they were able to significantly cut money and time that developing such a product normally costs. The production process was shortened by an unbelievable 96%, and an additional 1000 GBP was saved per piece.
Saarioinen is a Finnish food manufacturer that, unlike the aforementioned international companies, operates mainly on the national basis. As a leading food producer in the country, they have resorted to external 3D printing services for their rapid prototyping needs. Saarioinen asked a rapid prototyping company to 3D print different prototype bottles for its new line of beverages, in order that the durability and behavior of the bottles can be tested before going into mass production. According to the company, the process would have taken weeks in addition to much more money, if not for additive prototyping techniques instead of conventional methods.
There are hundreds of examples where different companies take advantage of new 3D printing techniques for their prototyping needs and save significant amounts of time and money in the process. For further examples and case studies, you can take a look at our website and see for yourself what diverse fields and branches of the industry we cover. Or you can contact us and have a free consultation with one of our specialists. We are always happy to help.
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