METHOD's heated chamber and open materials platform enabled WIESEMANN 1893 to unlock the potential of professional-grade materials and accelerate their design and prototyping cycles.
Located in Frankfurt, Germany, WIESEMANN 1893 is a consumer manufacturer of high-quality tools for the makers of the world, offering around 100 hand tools, such as hammers, axes, and screwdrivers. The company also launched ENABLE 3D, a startup that offers 100 digital designs for tool accessories. With hundreds of tools and designs, the teams do a lot of prototyping
Prototyping was a long and slow road for Siskowski and his team. While historically much of the prototyping has been done through external service providers, the resulting wait times to get simple parts meant fewer options for iterations and much less creative freedom in their designs. With long lead times and increasing costs, they needed a new viable solution. To accelerate their prototyping, they brought in their first 3D printer – the MakerBot METHOD X.
“We are seeing a shift in product design, where we are able to be much more creative,” said Manuel Siskowski, CEO and founder of WIESEMANN 1893 and ENABLE 3D. “Prototyping is key for us. We focus on quality designs and try to deliver the highest quality possible. To do that, it is crucial to test a lot and iterate quickly, and the MakerBot METHOD X helps us by speeding up that process. It is a great benefit during prototyping because it increases our time to market significantly, while reducing costs.”
Siskowski chose METHOD X for its professional reliability and unique heated build chamber, which provides a higher level of dimensional accuracy and repeatability. Another attraction was the availability and ease of use of production materials from ABS to nylon to carbon fiber composites and the ability to use third-party materials through the MakerBot LABS GEN 2 Experimental Extruder.
“METHOD is an easy-to-use solution, and still helps us achieve high quality, professional results. METHOD’s heated chamber and range of materials help us get closer to the final products. On one hand, we can produce the same complex geometries as with injection molding. On the other, with materials like carbon fiber, we can simulate real-life applications of the products. This makes the prototypes more realistic to test and compare, particularly for durability and strength,” he continued.
The MakerBot LABS extruder also enabled them to unlock the potential of their own materials on the METHOD X platform.
“With the LABS extruder, we are very flexible with testing our own materials. With ENABLE 3D, we frequently test with recycled filament, pushing us further along the circular economy challenge. With MakerBot LABS, we are leveraging materials that we have developed in-house on METHOD X,” stated Siskowski. “Primarily, we use 3D printing for product and process quality. But we are now able to test unique materials with MakerBot. We have developed recycled filament from our product waste streams and have integrated it into METHOD’s ecosystem.”
Another benefit of using an in-house printer for the product design team was their ability to monitor and control the prints remotely with MakerBot CloudPrint. Having their own infrastructure of 3D printers to test different iterations and designs for all the WIESEMANN 1893 tools as well as other projects for customers was never more important than during COVID-19. With METHOD X and a skeleton staff on site, they were able to keep the production running even during the pandemic.
In addition to prototyping for the WIESEMANN 1893 brand, Siskowski launched ENABLE 3D, a platform they have already been using to provide their own customers with 3D files to print their own tool holders and other accessories. When Siskowski launched ENABLE 3D in 2020, he saw a rise in consumer applications of 3D printing at the time. As a result, he decided to venture into space because he knew that they could offer customers a value-add to products they already own.
ENABLE 3D offers about a hundred different digital designs of tooling accessories, such as wall holders, on Thingiverse. The files can be downloaded for free and printed on a customer’s 3D printer. Although users of ENABLE 3D can produce items themselves, the startup also offers a coproduction and decentralized production approach. For those who do not have access to a 3D printer, customers can reach out to ENABLE 3D’s community printing service and submit a request. One of its community members will print out the request with their own 3D printer and send the final product to the customer, at a low cost.
ENABLE 3D has been so successful that they are now offering the platform to other companies who similarly want to enable their customers with 3D printable objects. The METHOD X allows WIESEMANN 1893 to test these files first and make sure they meet their high standards before distributing the files to customers.
“With ENABLE 3D, we commercialize and develop additive manufacturing use cases, and all of those use cases focus on the coproduction side of things. In those applications, we have a brand or a designer, and the production is done by the consumer,” said Siskowski. “With the WIESEMANN 1893 brand, we continue to develop different tools and products. But with all our projects, whether it is for WIESEMANN 1893 or ENABLE 3D, we are working hard to close the circular gap.”