Five Companies Using Rapid Prototyping to their Advantage

Here are five of many companies saving millions of dollars through rapid prototyping.

Ford

We did include Ford in our previous article, however it should be clear that Ford uses 3D printing for rapid prototyping specifically – and saves millions because of it. Ford says it makes a large selection of its car parts by 3D printing the original prototypes for testing. The 3D printed metal/plastic prototypes take very little time or money to build, and within hours Ford can determine the value of a specific part. The company has said it can save up to $493,000 and months of work on production methods simply by using rapid prototyping.

Fender Musical Instruments

Fender is known for its iconic guitars both electric and acoustic, yet it is much lesser known that Fender uses in-house 3D printing for much of its prototyping. Fender used to actually use an out-of-house service bureau to rapid prototype its parts, but even then it would take Fender approximately two weeks to wait for a prototype. After purchasing Stratasys industrial 3D printers and starting to do its own rapid prototyping, Fender now makes prototypes overnight. The company also says it costs just $4 per cubic inch for each prototype it makes with its 3D printers, which is significantly less than the amount it cost before the in-house move.

Worrell

You may not have heard of Worrell, but it would be safe to assume you’ve heard of one of its many clients. The design bureau has made products and prototypes for hundreds of large companies, including Honeywell, Lenovo, Johnson&Johnson, Samsung and Best Buy just to name a few. How does Worrell prefer to build its clients’ products? You guessed it – 3D printing. The design firm has said it saves significant ROI through rapid prototyping on its Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers. According to Worrell, the 3D printed molds it makes can be finished in a maximum of two days, compared with the six-week lead time it used to take.

Saarioinen

We wrote about Finnish food manufacturer Saarioinen a few weeks ago, but it is important to mention them simply to demonstrate that it is not only large, international multibillion-dollar companies utilizing rapid prototyping. Saarioinen is a leading food producer in Finland, and the company recently turned to fellow Finnish company Maker3D to design and build 3D printed prototypes for its new line of sauce bottles. Saarioinen wanted to 3D print various prototypes so as to effectively test the behavior and durability of the bottles in factory lines, a process the company says would have required weeks of waiting and much more money being spent had they used a more conventional method of prototyping.

Brightwake

Medical device company Brightwake teamed up with Stratasys to produce its revolutionary blood recycling machine, the Hemosep. Brightwake used a Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D printer to make models and prototypes of the device’s core parts. According to Brightwake R&D Director Steve Cotton who led the project, using additive manufacturing enabled the company to drastically cut both time and money it would have typically spent. It shortened the production process by weeks and cut prototyping costs by a huge 96%, saving about £1000 per piece.

“3D printing has not only enabled us to cut our own costs, it has also been crucial in actually getting a functional device to clinical trials,” said Cotton. “The ability to 3D print parts that look, feel and perform like the final product, on-the-fly, is the future of medical device manufacturing.”

By Shanie Phillips for inside3dp.com