RedDOT designs and builds mobile heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and components for on- and off-highway vehicles — the big rigs you see on construction sites and other rugged spots. This often means engineering custom HVAC systems for each vehicle.
Tooling to injection mold these systems can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per project, so RedDOT must get the design perfect in advance. The company used to order SLA or SLS prototypes from out of state, but that meant waiting weeks for parts not strong enough for tough physical testing. Now that the company has a Fortus FDM machine in-house, it can print durable functional prototypes in hours.
Of course RedDOT puts ULTEM 9085 (an FDM material) to good use. Its temperature resistance is perfect for HVAC prototyping. But my favorite example from RedDOT is one of those applications that might not occur to designers until they have 3D printing capabilities onsite. Presented with a customer's design for a housing that didn't mate properly with its rubber bulb seal, RedDOT 3D printed four variations of depths and widths for the housing's groove, then added sections of seal to find the best fit.
The FDM test part (pictured below) took only 2.5 hours and $10 of material.
“The Stratasys solution of being able to make production-grade components one-off enables us to deliver functional prototypes to customers at a much faster speed,” RedDOT's Gary Hansen said. Check out the full case study here.