With increasing pressure to get products to market faster, we’re seeing more and more companies shake off the shackles of traditional manufacturing processes and move to additive manufacturing. Take the example of Japanese consumer products company IRIS Ohyama, which launches over 1,000 new products each year, including gardening tools, health care products, pet care items, home and office furniture, and home appliances.
The pressure to constantly launch new products means that the company is always looking for faster ways to get products developed and into the stores.
“Fitting of parts for home appliances is crucial, allowing almost no clearance at all. The design validation process requires functional prototypes that are accurate, stable and durable, all without compromising the look and feel of a product. We need to be able to correct design errors quickly to minimize time-to-market,” says Hidekatsu Hara, R&D Manager, IRIS Ohyama.
IRIS Ohyama started using Stratasys 3D Printers in 2006, when it first entered the home appliance business and needed to create complex product designs (meaning more work for the engineers and tighter deadlines). The IRIS Ohyama design team chose an FDM-based Dimension 1200es 3D Printer from Stratasys for its ability to make durable, precise functional prototypes with real thermoplastics.
Once it had seen the benefits of Stratasys’ FDM 3D printing technology, IRIS Ohyama’s team expanded its capabilities to include Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology, adding a more authentic look and feel to functional prototypes. The company chose the Objet30 and Objet30 Pro 3D Printers, which create detailed, smooth models in a wide range of material choices including high-temperature tolerant, transparent and rubber-like.
As IRIS Ohyama discovered, together the two technologies enhance the company’s ability to speed up product design and create a highly iterative design process.