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Water and Heating Systems Manufacturer Slashes Lead Times By Adding 3D Printing to Tooling Process
A 3D printed injection mold for a diaphragm is shown being removed from the Stratasys Objet350 Connex Multi-material 3D printer
Photo courtesy of Stratasys
MINNEAPOLIS—Whale, a global manufacturer of water and heating systems for mobile applications, has dramatically cut its lead times for the production of injection mold tools for prototype parts by up to 97 percent since introducing Stratasys 3D printing into its tooling process. The manufacturing 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, according to Jim Sargent, 3D technical services representative at Whale.
"Traditionally, our lead times for metal tools were somewhere between 4-5 weeks and came with significant production costs. As a result, our R&D process was very time-consuming and fundamentally slowed down the launch of new products. With our Objet Connex 3D Printer, we are now able to design our tools during the day, 3D print them overnight, and test them the next morning with a range of end-product materials. The time and cost savings associated with this new tooling method are significant," Sargent said in a statement.
The injection mold tools are 3D printed using Stratasys' Digital ABS material, which offers distinct material properties ideal 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 glass-filled polypropylene.
"Looking into the future, 3D printing is hugely revolutionary in terms of how we are going to operate as a business," explained Patrick Hurst, managing director at Whale, in a statement. "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 Stratasys 3D printing solutions. Add that on top of the 20% we're already saving in terms of our design work—well, for me, it's fantastic."
"We are seeing an increasing number of customers exploring the potential that 3D printed injection mold tools offer," said Nadav Sella, solutions sales manager at Stratasys (www.stratasys.com), in a statement. "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."
Whale (www.whalepumps.com) has made recent innovations in intelligent control electronic pump systems and gas and electric heating systems for water and space in recreational vehicles, according to company representatives. Whale supplies the marine, caravan and motorhome, shower drainage, and industrial markets around the world with freshwater, bilge and waste pumps, and water and space heating systems.
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