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Can additive manufacturing solve your product development challenges in a new way?
Product Design Melbourne

If you are developing physical products, then recent advances in additive manufacturing are worth watching.
Unlike software products where the distribution of the product occurs over the internet, hardware development requires distributing physical products.
The leap from prototyping in the development phases to a level of manufacture and the physical distribution of the product is a challenge in every case.
A critical element in the creation of a new hardware product is the validation of the manufacturing process and the creation of the quality systems that will ensure consistent production and the delivery of high quality products to the customers.
More and more, product developers are looking for solutions to make a quantity of products that they can take to the market in a restricted form for trials and getting feedback before committing to full scale production.
These new additive manufacturing systems are trying to address this challenge for when you might want a few hundred to a thousand parts (with limitations of course).
The inherent capabilities of the additive manufacturing approach are;
(a) lower upfront costs compared to injection moulding,
(b) agile part production,
(c) the ability to iterate rapidly on design changes, and
(d) lower non-recurring engineering expenses.

Carbon 3D - Speedcell

Carbon 3D are best known for working with Adidas to make custom footwear for their customers, but these products are not at a commercial release.
Their technology has been borne from the stereolithography process with new materials being central to their success.
They have a subscription model where you get a machine and parts washer for a yearly charge of around $60,000 USD plus some delivery and setup costs.
Carbon’s technology offers the following benefits;
  • Differentiated functional performance unique to Carbon (i.e. tunable lattices, textures, foam replacement)
  • Part consolidation (i.e. 3D printed single part instead of multiple part assemblies, simpler assembly lines, complex parts with intricate channels, holes, and recesses)
  • Leaner supply chain (i.e. parts-on-demand, reduced supplier dependencies)

HP - Jet Fusion

Hewlett Packard's Jet Fusion system has developed from their experience with large format 2D printing. It uses binders to hold nylon powder for a fusion process to produce the parts. HP claim to be able to produce parts 10 x more quicklythan other additive manufacturing processes and at half the cost .
The parts we have seen look pretty impressive but come in any colour as long as it is a shade of black. This is not so good for visible parts.
Image of equipment
HP's equipment does not come cheap at an investment of $500,000 AUD.

The outlook for Hardware Product developers

These technologies do not yet meet the broad need for making hundreds to a thousand parts at a quality and cost that to bridge the gap between development and full scale production.
Carbon 3D's materials are struggling to beat the $100 per kg cost threshold.
HP's Jet Fusion parts are more suited to non-visible applications.
One thing for sure is that new technologies will continue to arrive in this space.
One day additive manufacturing will enable a new approach to your product development.

Have any questions? Contact the Melbourne Product Design team today on +61 3 9413 9000 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Mark Bayly, 19th October 2017



Carbon 3D's M1 Cell

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Carbon 3D - Part Printing

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HP Fusion Jet Equipment

Printer on the left, Material Preparation on the right

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 HP Fusion Jet part

 HP Fusion Jet Part

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Header image

Carbon 3D's midsole component in Adidas Shoe