At the Anvil studiosWe pride ourselves on developing products that people like to use. Given our passion for great design, it makes perfect sense that we are fans of 3D printing in the design process.
It became clear to me early in my career as an industrial designer that 3D printing accelerated the development process and reduced the risk. I was working on a product that consisted of parts and many components that had to fit together precisely. The tool estimate for production was $ 100,000.
The owner of the company was keen to get the product into production, but understandably was concerned about paying the advertised price of $ 10,000 for a 3D printed prototype (late 1990s). I told him, “If we pay $ 10,000 for the prototype now, we’ll save a possible $ 100,000 error later.” It was sold immediately.
A week later we had the prototype in our hands. The mechanical engineer and I were able to evaluate the design, function and performance and make the minor changes required. We were ready to go into production.
Nowadays, 3D printing continues to allow designers to evaluate their design ideas early in the design process. Now it is even faster, cheaper and more precise.
In contrast to conventional prototyping methods such as CNC milling, 3D printing is an additive process with which incredibly complex geometries can be created layer by layer and without multiple settings or steps. Manufacturing a conventional CNC milled part can take almost a week, while the same 3D printed part can be made in just a few hours.
3D printers not only do the job faster, they also increase customer satisfaction. 3D printing allows designers to iterate faster and more deeply to refine their concept. A better thought out product ensures a better product experience, and a better product experience leads to a happier customer.
This was the first prototype we created for a site spokesman we designed for Milwaukee Tool. This first version helped us check size, scale, and the initial details.
The second 3D printed loudspeaker prototype with all details such as screw holes and grill patterns. This was used to check the final design intent before the CAD file was handed over to the customer.
This third iteration is an appearance where 3D printing was used for all parts. After printing, each of the parts was sanded, primed and painted to reproduce the final appearance of a manufactured product. This model was then used for marketing purposes (including photo shoots) while the product was being made. This particular model was of such good quality that the marketing team thought it was a production sample and drugged it behind a pickup during a photo shoot (to demonstrate its durability). That’s why it is so crazy!
These 3D printed end caps show the different stages of models created during the speaker’s process at the Milwaukee construction site.
Greg Janky is a co-founder of Anvil studios in Seattle, WA. Greg is very focused and enthusiastic about design and the benefits it brings to its customers and end users. Greg is fluent in fast visualization and uses tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Alias and SolidWorks to communicate his design vision. Greg lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two daughters. He is an avid car lover and international traveler.
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