Before having a 3D printer at his fingertips, Jack relied solely on the machine shop at the office to support his prototyping needs. Since other teams also utilized the machine shop, sometimes it would take days before he received his part back. If additional adjustments needed to be made to the original design, he would have to send back a new design and wait some more for a new part, extending his project lead time.
“With the METHOD and METHOD X, I can quickly produce a concept and get it into a physical form. Years ago, it would have taken longer. But with a 3D printer in my workshop, I have more control over the process and timeline,” Jack noted. “Having a high-quality desktop 3D printer in-house opens new doors, allowing me to fabricate and test mechanical functions sooner, sometimes shaving off days. Complex parts and assemblies are often ready overnight, ready for review with a cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning. I can inform the team with results at the morning meeting.”
The MakerBot 3D printers are mostly used to print early prototype models to prove out an electromechanical function. Jack uses a mix of 3D printing materials depending on the application. Since most of his team’s work is for demonstration of a new feature or function, he typically uses a material that can withstand hundreds of cycles. Recently, they started to use ABS-R for housings and structural features due to the material’s high impact resistance and durability, and Nylon Carbon Fiber for gears.
Printing high-quality custom parts on demand has enabled the team to provide dimensionally accurate assemblies that are very similar to injection molded production assemblies, helping to prove out a toy’s features quicker and with high confidence of success.