Stratasys applications engineer, Mike Block, discussed benefits of using FDM-based tools for paper pulp molds at The Big M. Conference.
Bruce Bradshaw, VP of Marketing North America, echoed Levy’s sentiments during the expert panel discussion, “Business Insights into Additive Manufacturing.” Bradshaw categorized additive manufacturing opportunities into three sections: Prototyping, Production Part Manufacturing, and Jigs, Fixtures and Tooling (injection molding). Though 3D printing is often associated with rapid prototyping, it’s the area of tooling and jigs & fixtures where manufacturers can see tangible ROI on the manufacturing floor.
During the discussion, which featured panelists Bryan Crutchfield of Materialise, Bruce Colter of Linear Mold and Engineering, Inc., and Steven Taub of GE Ventures, Bradshaw used a real-life example straight from the Stratasys manufacturing floor. “We used a CNC tool to produce the door hinges on our Fortus Production Series 3D Printers. By switching our production processes to Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), we successfully reduced the lead time from 3.5 weeks to 2.5 hours, and cut production cost by 86%.”
As with any disruptive technology, questions were raised concerning industry hype from the media. Just how beneficial is 3D printing to manufacturing facilities? Bradshaw and the panel agreed that companies must invest in training on the manufacturing floor in order to recognize which application tools are right for their operations. “3D printing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to familiarize your manufacturing team with this technology, so as it evolves, they recognize its capabilities and how it can be tailored to meet your needs,” explained Bradshaw.