Consumer products manufacturer finds success with new way to prototype.
Prototypes clean up errors.
He added that the on-site 3D printer speeds up error correction as well: “When you see and feel a real model, you can intuitively tell what needs improvement, whether it may be mechanical functions or fitting of an assembly. You can identify tiny design flaws on a real model that could be missed on a PC display.”
Two 3D printing technologies.
IRIS Ohyama first purchased a Dimension 3D Printer that uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM®) technology. “Prototypes made by an FDM printer are suitable for modification because of the real thermoplastic materials (ABS) it uses,” said Hiroshi Oizumi, assistant manager for the R&D department. “ABS models have high durability and long-term stability.” In 2013, IRIS Ohyama added two Objet 3D Printers. These printers use PolyJet® technology, which creates models through ultra-thin (16 microns) layers to achieve an even smoother finish. Also, the PolyJet printers provide a variety of material choices – including high-temperature durable, transparent, and rubber-like – to attain the authentic look and feel of a model. “We chose the Objet because it offered the highest precision in the market,” said Oizumi. “Fitting home appliances is sometimes so tight that there’s almost no clearance at all.”
To give an example, he held up the head assembly of a
new cyclone cleaner. “Performance of this cleaner fully depends on the fitting of
components. The suction part, the rotary brush, support walls and casters must
be precisely and optimally adjusted. If we fail, its cleaning efficiency will fail.”
The effective combination of the two technologies works for Oizumi’s team. “Using
the Dimension and the Objet 3D Printers for distinct purposes, we can respond to
any design requirements with accuracy and speed,” said Oizumi.
Hara said that incorporating 3D technology into IRIS Ohyama’s business strategy has helped the company succeed in a volatile market. As a result of its market strategy, IRIS Ohyama has seen its revenue in home appliance sector double from 2012 to 2013 – a one-year growth of 200%. Hara said, “In order to keep this momentum, we’ll continuously enhance our ability in product development by adopting new technologies. No one wants to miss a great opportunity like this.”