Founded more than 80 years ago, the Ricoh Company, Ltd., is no newcomer to imaging and solutions-based production. Although they have a decidedly shorter history with 3D printing, the multinational company still credits the additive technology for its success in rapid prototyping. But progress stands still for no one, and innovators at the company knew there was traction to be gained by expanding 3D printing beyond prototyping all the way to actual production.
“Jigs tooled from metal are both heavy and difficult to iterate,” said Masami Hirama, director of the Production Innovation Center. The heavy jigs required a proportionately heavier, wide workbench and operators frequently struggled to move the parts from the shelf to the workbench. Ricoh knew the solution to their problems lay in 3D printing and they set out to not only transform prototyping, but also begin 3D printing jigs for the production line.
The Ricoh factory floor.
“We are excited to have discovered a way to bring three 3D printing applications into our business, moving from advanced prototyping for R&D to manufacturing tools, and finally to production itself.”
Taizo Sakagi, Ricoh