This blog is focused upon highlighting where innovative print technology is being effectively deployed within a manufacturing process, so when both Jaguar and PUMA take a leap into embracing 3D Print technology, this, for us is an exciting story.
For Jaguar and PUMA, 3D Printing has improved speed, increased efficiency and enhanced communication representing a considerable improvement in manufacturing performance.
It’s clear that for many innovative brands, for certain manufactured applications, 3D Print plays a significant and strategically important role. Why? Because it improves production performance, from design to manufacture. This means it contributes to an organisations ability to innovate which is a vital component to survival in today’s super-fast and competitive marketplace. For both Jaguar and PUMA, 3D Printing has most certainly contributed to creating prototypes more quickly whilst helping to solve complex communication problems between design teams based in different global locations.
Jaguar, since 2008, has been using the rapid prototyping value of 3D Print through their purchase of an Objet Connex500 from Stratasys. The 3D Printer was chosen for its multi-material capability which combines the ability to print with two different materials to deliver superior models for design and prototyping. This exciting technology enables Jaguar to create models direct from CAD data with elastomer, rubber like materials and produce working mechanisms that contribute towards reducing development cycles.
For Jaguar, the biggest user of the Connex Matrix technology is the design department as the deployment of ‘styling’ elements within the cars is an important part of the creation of a car like a Jaguar. Over half of everything produced on the 3D Printer finds its way into the design studio to help finalise new design proposals. A good example was the creation of an entire telescopic headlamp washing system that extends and cleans headlamps every fifth time the windscreen is washed. The Connex-printed components proved to be strong enough to pass rigorous testing, allowing the design to be proved before moving onto the expensive tooling stage. The Connex has been impressive for Jaguar in that it has enabled to prototype parts direct from CAD data that would have otherwise been time consuming and/or expensive using alternative prototyping options.
For PUMA, 3D Print has helped to compress their design time and improved their communication between their international design teams. For a global design team, with multiple locations, being able to hold the same physical model to which they could all relate to is really crucial to allow for effective collaboration on product design. Obviously, being able to print off the same product from the same CAD software removes this problem.
To reduce design time, PUMA has switched from outsourcing its prototypes to using an in house 3D Print system. ‘We realized that with the in-house Stratasys 3D Printer we could perform more design iterations in less time’, said Any Chun, Tooling and 3D Engineer. ‘As a company, PUMA already was successfully using a 3D printer at another site, so we knew what to expect’. PUMA now uses the Connex500 3D Printer in several stages of its footwear design. A prototype of a shoe sole is printed for the first design review; a second model is produced later in the process for the construction review; and a third model is generated for metal casting.
The key is speed – ‘it now only takes us a single day to get a finished prototype – in terms of quality and accuracy, the Stratasys 3D Printer allows us to evaluate footwear models for outsole fit by connecting the sole model to the upper part of the shoe. By then having 3 machines, each located in the 3 key sites around the world, Puma has resolved the difficult communication problem.’
3D Print technology is increasingly deployed within leading companies to improve performance and is certainly going to play a growing role in manufacturing that long term, will not be confined purely to design and prototyping. As Professor Neil Hopkinson at University of Sheffield explains, “Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing is receiving a lot of interest with particular media attention on the lower cost systems that are appearing everywhere. However in the longer term I expect the higher cost, industrial systems, capable of displacing many of today’s industrial processes, will have the most profound impact on industry and society”.
Whilst 3D printing might well make it into our homes and spark another manufacturing revolution, it is already generating significant change and value within the industrial sector and it is here, where we at InPrint see its greatest potential.