UK design consultancy and Stratasys customer DesignReality put their Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer to the test recently by 3D printing two pairs of full-color goggles, rugged enough for field testing.
DesignReality got its start in 2000, with small design projects and CAD software training. The firm’s “aha” moment came when they were awarded a contract for Scott Safety, which helped launch them into an international design consultancy. The firm used 3D printing from the start, and purchased a Stratasys 3D printer in 2001.
“We realized the power of having the technology in house and the impact it gave during the design process,” said Troy Baker, managing director.
Having a 3D printer in house allowed the company to move from concept to 3D printed goggles for field testing in only three days. The build time for two pairs of goggles was 11 hours and 52 minutes. Once converted into a CAD file, the goggle frames were 3D printed. A laser-cut visor, strap and lining were added to complete the prototype. Team members took the goggles for a mountain biking spin to give them a test.
“Our in-house machines have always been treated like a staff member; it’s a piece of kit with a specialist skill that needs to be performed and is called upon throughout the design cycle as and when designers need to use it,” Baker said. “Companies without the technology in house normally have to design to a point and then send out the file and wait for its return. My staff can print at any stage to prove the design, delivering a quicker, more streamlined approach to design. We can find and design out bad ideas early on.”
Speed is only one advantage – costs are also easier to control with an in-house prototype that’s available quickly.
“3D printing means a more focused design process. Being able to print an object and get it in hand earlier reduces redesign when functions don’t interact as expected,” Baker said. “Although you may produce more models, you effectively spend less time on design avenues that have a flaw early on and will inevitably cause issues when trying to design them out.”
While the team is using the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer by Stratasys, Baker said the multi-color availability was initially secondary to the importance of Digital ABS and rubber-like (Tango) materials availability. Since introducing color, he said the team now sees how color advances their work with the changes it brings to the technology.
“We have used it for marking areas of design change within the part so customers can see what has been done. As final models, the 3D printed models work straight off the machine in representations of colors and over molds,” Baker said. “And the best use we have found so far is in medical scans, as we can now mark scans in multi-color for areas of bone removal, as guides for surgeons.”
While DesignReality has already fully embraced 3D printing, Baker said he’s eager to see what the future holds for rapid prototyping and what new features 3D printing will bring.
“Today we use the Objet500 Connex3 for concept models, design prototypes, both functional and form, final finished models, short run production components and jigs & fixtures to name a few, so it is fully embedded at every stage for us,” Baker said. “Where we see potential growth is in more production-ready parts that could offer a cheaper alternatives to the production process.”
Watch this cool video to see how Design Reality created these awesome goggles in record time.