Whale, a leading manufacturer of water and heating systems for mobile applications, has slashed its lead times for the production of injection mold tools for prototype parts by up to 97% since introducing Stratasys 3D printing into its tooling process.
Said Jim Sargent, 3D Technical Services at Whale, the company is 3D printing injection mold tools in less than 24 hours using its Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D Printer, at a fraction of the cost of producing metal tools: “Traditionally, our lead times for metal tools were somewhere between 4 to 5 weeks and came with significant production costs. As a result, our R&D process was time-consuming and fundamentally slowed down the launch of new products. The Objet Connex 3D Printer, however, enabled us to design our tools during the day, 3D print them overnight and test them the next morning. And we could print with a range of materials for end-product use. The time and cost savings associated with this new tooling method are significant.”
The injection mold tools are 3D printed using Stratasys’ Digital ABS material, which features distinct material properties for low volume part production – high temperature resistance and toughness. Whale also offers its Rapid Prototyping Service to external customers, including automotive and aerospace industries, producing 3D printed multi-material parts and tools using plastics such as polypropylene and polypropylene glass-filled.
“Looking into the future, 3D printing is hugely revolutionary in terms of how we are going to operate as a business,” explains Patrick Hurst, Managing Director at Whale. “We have already seen the technology take months off of our product development process and that in turn minimizes risk. In fact, I estimate that we’ve shortened our R&D process by up to 35% with 3D printing. Add that on top of the 20% we’re already saving in terms of our design work – well for me, it’s fantastic.”
Nadav Sella, Solutions Sales Manager at Stratasys concludes: “We are seeing an increasing number of customers exploring the potential that 3D printed injection mold tools offer. In addition to the dramatic cost and time savings potential, our Digital ABS tools enable companies to produce parts in the real end-product material, ready to test even in the prototyping phase. Our customers can therefore make quicker test iterations and bring products to market faster.”