“Moving faster is everything to us,” says Jeremy Godin, vice president of product for Mishimoto Automotive. The products they make — radiators, racing thermostats, intercoolers — enhance the performance of car engines, so their customers move faster. For car and racing enthusiasts, Mishimoto is almost like a pit crew, replacing their stock parts with better, higher performing products.
But, like a pit crew, the leading manufacturer in aftermarket performance cooling products is always pushing to make their process faster and more efficient. “It’s all about speed to market,” says Godin, who compares the market to a “pie that nobody’s had a slice of yet. First person there gets the whole pie.”
When Godin joined Mishimoto four years ago, some products took as much as two years to come to market. Now the development timeline is “a fraction of that,” he says. “A lot of that is through the tools that we’ve brought on site,” from coordinate measuring machines to 3D printers.
Mishimoto first acquired a Stratasys Dimension uPrint, which allowed the company to rely less on cardboard and sheet metal for prototypes. “A lot of the times that fell short, because you can’t simulate complex geometry with basic sheet metal parts,” says product engineer Steve Wiley. He also saves time, because he can work on other projects while the 3D printer is making a model.
However, the materials were costly — more than $700 for five spools of ABS — such that the engineering team had to consider carefully whether it made sense to 3D print.
Then, earlier this year, Mishimoto bought a MakerBot Replicator Z18. Its massive build volume means that Mishimoto can 3D print larger parts in a single piece, and MakerBot PLA Filament, which costs only a few cents per gram, meant that they could prototype more freely. Given how much Mishimoto relies on 3D printing, “the machine will pay for itself,” says engineering manager Kevin McCardle.
When MakerBot visited Mishimoto’s offices in New Castle, DE, Mishimoto engineers talked through the development of Mishimoto’s Ford Mustang Ecoboost Intercooler; which tests showed that Mishimoto’s Ecoboost intercooler lowers air intake temperature by 35°F (19°C) more than to the Mustang’s stock intercooler.
Once Mishimoto gets its hands on a new Mustang, it removes the part in question and creates a more efficient part that has the same shape. For the intercooler prototype, Mishimoto made 3D printed end tanks and attached them to a core made from wooden two-by-fours. Once Mishimoto confirmed the fit of the intercooler with a 3D printed prototype, it went straight into production of the end tanks without having to wait to review a sample part.
This process saves Mishimoto about six weeks of development time. That’s six weeks of getting the whole pie on a $475 intercooler. And Mishimoto makes about 150 new products a year, 30% of which involve 3D printing. That’s a lot of pies — and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales each year that could never have happened without tightening their process.
“At Mishimoto, five years from now I could see us having a wall of 3D printers,” Godin says. “It will continue to allow us to get to market faster.”
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