Rapid manufacturing produces parts faster and less expensively

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 24 April 2007



(2007), "Rapid manufacturing produces parts faster and less expensively", Assembly Automation, Vol. 27 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/aa.2007.03327bab.004



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Rapid manufacturing produces parts faster and less expensively

Rapid manufacturing produces parts faster and less expensively

First-hand account by industry expert hails leading RM facility as “impressive”

Rapid manufacturing (RM), the technique of creating production-grade parts directly for end-use with rapid prototyping equipment can provide speed and lifetime cost benefits over traditional manufacturing techniques, such as injection molding, for some products.

This was the conclusion of world- renown product-development expert, Terry Wohlers, following an in-person visit to RedEye RPM – the world's largest rapid prototype and part-building service (a business unit of Stratasys), including our business partner, FDM Center in Belgium. Wohlers is President of Wohlers Associates, a design and manufacturing consulting firm, operating since 1986.

“Rapid manufacturing is finding its way into many industries. The possibilities seem limitless” states Wohlers on his corporate blog site.

In reference to his visit, Wohlers' blog reads, “[RedEye RPM] is attracting far more rapid manufacturing jobs than anyone at the company had envisioned. RedEye RPM is offering unparalleled FDM capacity. I was impressed that the company had produced 60,000 parts for customers over the past three years and now has over 60 machines dedicated to its operation.”

RedEye RPM and the European partner, FDM Center, services clients in industries such as aerospace, electronics, consumer, automotive and medical products. “Our first major rapid manufacturing order came from a company that produces specialized camera parts” says RedEye sales manager, Jeff Hanson. “This customer has ordered nearly 2,000 PC/ABS parts to date, and we expect them to order many more. This really changed the mindset at RedEye when we saw the potential for these types of orders, and we realized that we could eliminate tooling for some applications. We also built 4,800 polycarbonate parts for a company that develops hand-held medical devices for cardiac surgeons” says Hanson.

Rapid manufacturing, also known as layered or direct digital manufacturing, best serves those customers who need custom or short-run production parts. “Our service and the technology are ideal for companies producing low volumes of parts, where expensive tooling is not desirable” says Hanson.

In addition to short runs, RM can provide a competitive edge for small to mid-sized manufacturers who:

  • Require bridge manufacturing while waiting for tooling.

  • Manufacture jigs and fixtures.

  • Require rapid turnaround of 2-5 days (α and β product launches, for example, require a very small total production but very fast turnaround time).

  • Need parts that utilize complex geometries with negative angles, undercuts, thin walls or complex injection molded parts. It's also appropriate for parts without draft angles or ejector pin placements, or those with critical dimensional stability requirements.

  • Need to conserve capital for cash flow.

  • Conduct continuous design iterations during feasibility and market validation studies. Rapid manufacturing parts allow engineers and manufacturers to design, build and test their parts as many times as necessary.

For more information about rapid manufacturing or to try the automated quoting process, go to www.RedEyeRPM.com or www.fdmcenter.com in Europe

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