Whale: 3D Printers Have Slashed Lead Times by 97%

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Whale, a leading manufacturer of water and heating systems for mobile applications, has cut lead times by 97% thanks to the implementation of 3D printers in its production of injection mold tools.

The company is not only saving significant amounts of time thanks to implementing 3D printed injection mold tools, but also they are making huge costs savings compared to traditional methods of production.

“Traditionally, our lead times for metal tools were somewhere between 4 – 5 weeks and came with significant production costs. As a result, our R&D process was very time-consuming and fundamentally slowed down the launch of new products,” said Jim Sargent, from 3D Technical Services at Whale.

3D printed injection molds produced at Whale with Stratasys 3D printer

He says the company is using an Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer supplied by Stratasys, a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, which has enabled the printing of injection mold tools in less than 24 hours.

 “With our Objet Connex 3D Printer, we are now able to design our tools during the day, 3D print them overnight and test them the next morning with a range of end-product materials. The time and cost savings associated with this new tooling method are significant,” added Jim Sargent.

The 3D printed injection mold tools are printed using Stratasys’ Digital ABS material and feature distinct properties such as high temperature resistance and toughness, but Whale also offers a Rapid Prototyping Service for both the automotive and aerospace industries and they have found 3D printing “hugely revolutionary,” in terms of how the company expects to operate its business in the future.

Patrick Hurst, Managing Director at Whale said: “We have already seen the technology take months off of our product development process and that in turn minimizes risk. In fact, I estimate that we’ve shortened our R&D process by up to 35% with Stratasys 3D printing solutions. Add that on top of the 20% we’re already saving in terms of our design work – well for me, it’s fantastic.”

Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer from Stratasys

Stratasys say they are seeing an increasing number of customers exploring the potential that 3D printed injection mold tools offer manufacturing companies.

“In addition to the dramatic cost and time savings potential, our Digital ABS tools enable companies to produce parts in the real end-product material, ready to test even in the prototyping phase. Our customers can therefore make quicker test iterations and bring products to market faster,” said Nadav Sella, Solutions Sales Manager at Stratasys.

This is yet another application for 3D printing, which will save companies time and costs over traditional manufacturing techniques.  In some cases 3D printing is replacing injection molding as a means of production, and in other cases, like with Whale, it is complimenting it.  Let us know what you think of this case study in the 3DPB.com forum thread for Whale.  Further details on how Stratasys’ technology is helping manufacturers create injection molds, can be found here.

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