Stanley Black & Decker uses Z Corporation 3D printers to help make its tools feel good in the consumer’s hand, and ultimately trigger a purchase. Look and feel are every bit as important as specifications to consumers who need a hammer, drill, sander, or power saw, according to John Reed, master prototype specialist for the $8.4 billion company based in New Britain, Conn.
“They’ll look over the options and say, ‘Hey, I want that one,’” says Reed. “It’s up to our industrial designers to make our tools ones that consumers can’t resist. ZPrinters help us make concept models that let our designers verify that the product they’ve created on the computer will look, feel and handle in a way that consumers will love.”
Z Corporation’s 3D printers are capable of printing a prototype in multiple colors. “Color is very important,” Reed says. “The ZPrinters display fine detail in high resolution and accuracy, including logos, labels and tiny LED control lights. This saves us from having to mask and paint our models, which would be expensive and time-consuming and produce a second-rate model. We can ZPrint a model overnight and have a great-looking, multicolored concept prototype the next morning. The process would take a week or more if we did it the old way, via CNC and hand-painting. Realistically, ZPrinting is our only option for fast, colored models.”
Time savings like this were critical for a recent international design review. Less than 48 hours before a big meeting, SBD designers outside the United States sent Reed’s team a CAD design for a new stackable toolbox. ZPrinting was the only option. “It was a very large model that we printed in three parts,” Reed said. “The ZPrinter made the project easy, we finished the model a day early, and the design review was a success. The ZPrinter’s quick turnaround is a big factor in shortening our time to market and beating competitors to the punch.”
In addition to color and speed advantages, Stanley Black & Decker’s ZPrinters generate models affordably, enabling more concept prototypes earlier in the development phase. Later in the confirmation stage, the team may print out a wall-thickness shell model, saving additional money on material.