Stratasys Gold Reseller SMG3D - www.smg3d.co.uk – discusses why the Stratasys J750 is your perfect companion throughout the design, development and production process, and how it turns workflow into child's play.
Master of all Trades
As any product developer knows, the entire process from idea to packaged product is a long and complex one. The job of a 3D printer supplier is to help at every stage, but at every stage there are different requirements. At last, there is one 3D printer that covers the whole process: the Stratasys J750, with its 6-material capacity.
Let us pretend that we are designing and manufacturing a range of computer mice for children.
Stage 1: Early Research
Full-size mice are too big and cumbersome for kids. Therefore, we need to design the product to fit in smaller hands – but what is the right size and shape? The best way to find out is to 3D print a whole range of different sizes and shapes and then get some feedback. At this stage, we don’t need colour, we don’t need functionality, just precise, accurate models.
Load up the lowest-priced material, place a range of designs on the bed and hit print. In next to no time, we are getting early feedback.
Stage 2: Concept Models
Once we have a good idea of size and shape, we need to get right into the concepts. Kids aren’t going to be inspired by a solid white mouse. They want fun – so let’s get creative. Now that we have the form, designers can mock up some cartoon, full-colour designs to get some more feedback – both from kids and from those all-important marketing folks.
Load up the CMYK + White & Transparent materials into the J750 and print out those concepts in over 360,000 colours. What is on-screen will be printed. Perfect for people to get a real-life visual sample of the end product.
Stage 3: Functional Testing
Now that we have a funky-looking, ergonomically designed model, it is time to get functional. Let’s see how hard the button presses should be. Let’s fit on some some-touch sections in the correct Shore A value and a rolling soft-touch scroll wheel. Let’s make sure we design a secure battery compartment that inquisitive fingers can not access, but that adult fingers can. Let’s fill the whole thing with the actual electronics and test, test, test.
Load up some functional plastics and rubbers into the J750 and make sure that this great looking and feeling product actually works in a real world environment.
Stage 4: Moulding
Naturally, the end product will not be 3D printed – the market is not there yet. It will instead be injection moulded. However, before we go to the expense of setting up the mould tools, let’s just check that the tools are designed correctly. So we need to 3D print the mould tools and use these to validate our designs. They will be good for dozens of shots, so we can make sure the mould tools are correct and get a very final test of the mouse in its final production plastics.
Load up Stratasys’ Digital ABS into the J750, switch it into high speed mode and print out those mould tools.
Stage 5: Production
The J750’s contribution to time and cost savings are not over yet. There is a need for jigs and fixtures during the production process – during painting and finishing. There is also a need for robotic end-of-arm tools to assemble the mouse. All of these are cheaper and faster to produce, as well as lighter and better-designed, using 3D printing.
Load up some rubber-like material with the Digital ABS and print out the exact jigs, fixtures and tools that you need. These can incorporate soft-touch grippers and have integrated air channels.
The Stratasys J750 is your companion right the way through the design, development and production process. This mouse was just one example of what could be done – but in any industry the steps are similar.
In this video below, lead times at Synergy were cut by 90% and costs by 70%. Post processing of CNC machining and water printing, casting, sanding and silicone engraving as well as printing of additional parts were all eliminated by the use of one machine – the Stratasys J750.