Using computer-aided design (CAD) software to initially create appliance
prototypes, Olympic utilizes the Dimension printer to produce 3D plastic
models of parts that would have been printed on an ink-jet 2D printer.
The 3D printer is desktop-accessible and produces durable, physical
quickly and is used early in the design process to iterate multiple designs
and provide the design team with models that can be easily shared for
feedback. After the initial scaled-down 3D models are studied and examined,
modifications are made, and the design is printed again.
Mr. Nabio says
the advantage of being able to quickly create, study, and
change a part is one of the main reasons Olympic chose to implement the
printers into the company’s design process. “You can use
the part directly after making it,” he says. “It is helpful
for when we make changes. This helps enhance the design experience.
look at the parts right away.”
This advantage is one of the many
that have helped Olympic reduce its costs while increasing overall design
efficiency. “In the design
of most products, at least in appliances, there is a 3D part,” says
Jon Cobb, vice president and general manager of the 3D printing group
at Stratasys. “3D printing is valuable because you are able to
then model that particular part and study it in every single dimension.”
to Olympic, the 3D printer also offers overall performance advantages. “It
makes the development time shorter and also less expensive,”
Mr. Nabio explains. “If you need to make one or two parts, it is
much less expensive. We have young designers, and if they need to gain
experience, this is a better way to do it. They can see the part right
away; it helps us to better instruct them,” he says.
Once a basic
design of the 3D printed model is agreed upon among the team, Olympic’s
designers turn to the higher-end RP machines to create models with
added details or models that can be tested more rigorously
Maxum and the Titan
Using fused deposition modeling (FDM), the Maxum and Titan RP machines
create functional and durable models using both polycarbonate (PC) and
ABS plastic depending on the machine. The machines build the models one
layer at a time, from the bottom up. After a CAD file is sent to the
printer, where the data is read and the design is mathematically sectioned
into hundreds of horizontal layers, the software then sends the information
for both the design and any support structures back to the RP system
Once the instructions are received by the RP system, the machine heats
the molding material to a semi-liquid state, where it is extruded from
the modeling head to a thickness as fine as 0.005 in. Two modeling heads
dispense two different materials, one for the model and one for the support
structures, building each part layer by layer. After the model is complete,
the support material is manually removed or dissolved.
The time period from data to actual model is dependent on the size and
complexity of the specific application and design. After the model has
been extruded and the support material has been removed, no additional
time is needed before the model can be used. The Maxum and Titan, said
to be “office-friendly,” do not have to be installed on the
plant floor. In addition, no special vents or permits are required for
the operation of the equipment. Materials are also said to be nontoxic
and do not use powders or resins that create byproducts.
Olympic, using both the Maxum and Titan RP machines,
have, among other projects, tested an oven handle and floor fan prototype
before the tooling
stages. “Olympic utilized our machines and actually built a full-scale
prototype, which would be all the components of the fan, as it exists in
real life, plus any of the electronics that go into that. So at the end,
you have a fully functional fan,” Mr. Cobb of Stratasys explains.
In designing the fan prototype, Olympic used the Maxum to design the
housing and casing out of ABS materials. The Maxum machine, featuring
a maximum build envelope size of 24 by 20 by 24 in, was used to build
the larger parts of the fan in single segments. Designed to build large-scale
prototypes, the Maxum features an accuracy rate of 0.005 in for designs
up to 5 in, and 0.0015 in on designs greater than 5 in.
When designing the fan blades and additional smaller parts of the fan,
including the motor and gears, Olympic utilized the Titan, which builds
models with PC material. With a model build envelope size of 16 by 14
by 16 in, the Titan can produce small-scale models with ABS or PC material
and features the same accuracy rate of the Maxum. The small parts of
the fan made from both printers were then assembled together and engineers
were able to conduct tests before the tooling process.
According to Stratasys, the strength of an ABS or PC model made from
RP machines compared to a real, injected molded component, rates at an
estimated 75 percent. Besides using the RP machines for a fan prototype,
Olympic has used the Maxum to form the housing of an oven and utilized
the Titan to produce the oven handles and knobs. Olympic says it has
found many uses for the RP equipment. “Sometimes [we use it] in
concept design, sometimes in industrial design. Sometimes we need details
to test the functionality of the design, and sometimes we need to get
mockups to the marketing department to help them prepare for work,” Mr.
Nabio tells APPLIANCE.
According to both companies, the equipment is easy to install and does
not require any additional hardware, ventilation, or special equipment. “It
was among the fastest implementations we’ve ever had in the design
process,” notes Mr. Nabio. “It was also immediately effective.
I don’t think we’ve ever implemented a technology with such
ease,” he says.
All equipment can be housed in an office environment,
as it is said to not release any fumes and is relatively quiet. Olympic
says the only challenge
it faced when installing the equipment was due to the environment of its own
facilities. “Because we’re in Egypt, it’s extremely dusty,” Mr.
Nabio explains. “We had to ensure our lab was dust-free. We needed a
clean environment. So, it wasn’t as much as the machine as it was ensuring
we had a dust-free prototype lab. That required a great amount of hard work
in the construction of the lab.”
The Olympic Group feels the RP equipment
is extremely helpful to its team of engineers working on the design process. “Our
engineers feel they are better able to create designs,” says Mr. Nabio.
“Whether we’re trying to get a basic idea of a product’s
shape or form, or evaluating a final design for mass production, the
and Dimension meet all our needs,” confirms Olympic engineer Ahmed
a result, we are developing better designs and are able to get products to
market more quickly.”
The largest benefit, according to both companies,
has been the savings seen in the tooling process. “We estimate that
it cut down our development time by about 25 percent and that it cut development
costs by 40 percent,” Mr.
Nabio says. “Before we used Stratasys machines, it was a headache
Dimension 3D printer uses computer-aided design (CAD)
software to create models made of functional ABS