Northstar Manufacturing designs and builds precision alignment tools for auto shops. These are the devices that help mechanics adjust your wheels properly when you get new tires, optimizing wear and performance.
The tools are specially fabricated for each car model, so Northstar develops five to 10 new products a year. Waiting for outsourced 3D prototypes limited designers' options, according to Northstar's Shawn Miller. “With outsourced prototyping, we didn’t have the luxury of making the designs look perfect. Even the smallest design tweak required several turn-around days."
Since investing in a Dimension 3D Printer, Northstar designers found parts that used to take three or four months to design, now take a few days.
The demand for presicion in Northstar's line of work is a testament to Fused Deposition Modeling. The company prints complex prototypes with moving parts, including threaded bolts and hinges. It sends FDM models to machine shops to help communicate fine details, and prints cut-away models for training aids.
Read the full story of Northstar's rapid prototyping success here.