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Role of 3D Printing in Enabling Product Design

3D printers are very much part of the team at Robert Welch. They enable the development of simplistic, classic and timeless designs.

I first came across the use of 3D printing (or rapid prototyping as it was referred to then) at Dyson back in 1997. Right from the beginning James Dyson insisted that designs for new products were drawn first on CAD and then 3D printed. This enabled the team to not only see how different parts would fit together, but provided a cost effective way to be able to refine the design until the ultimate shape was achieved. 3D printing was a critical part of the design process at Dyson and ultimately part of their success.

Robert Welch is another design led organisation that has used 3D printing to enable the development of simplistic, classic and timeless designs. For over 10 years 3D printers have been an integral part of the team. They even have names! The Robert Welch design team use 3D printing to refine the shape of new products. For a single spoon it is not uncommon to produce 50 – 100 prototypes. It is a no mess, no fuss way of being able to refine a design in a cost effective way. They use a combination of 2 different types of 3D printer, for different stages in the development process. Early design ideas are printed on a Makerbot and as the design nears finalisation it is printed on a higher resolution Objet30. Once the design id finalised the CAD files and physical prototypes are sent to the factory, who can then amend the design to ensure manufacturability. The refined design can be re-printed to ensure that it has maintained its design integrity, and revised again if need be.

3D printing has enabled Robert Welch to question, challenge and push the boundaries of contemporary product design. Hear for yourself how 3D printing has enabled product design at Robert Welch by watching this short video.

YouTube: MakerBot & Stratasys. Robert Welch Ltd YouTube: MakerBot & Stratasys. Robert Welch Ltd

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This article is from the free online course:

Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You

The University of Warwick