In the past few years, we have heard a lot about 3D printing in mass media, as if it was something that just came fresh out of the oven. For most engineering professionals, these technologies were not something new, but mostly something called “additive manufacturing” or “rapid prototyping” that allowed complex parts, sometimes mostly impossible to fabricate by conventional methods, to be created in short timeframes and at reasonable costs. These rapid prototyping machines were still priced at a professional equipment level; only companies with a serious need would buy one, while others would buy the service when required. However, we have recently observed a trend to get some of these technologies to “prosumer” and even consumer levels.
In February last year, Creaform Engineering Services was contacted by a company, Uniz Technology, regarding a new product that could bring 3D printing to any home. Uniz’s mission was to provide its customers with revolutionary laser SLCD solutions in terms of resolution, print speed, reliability and affordability. The company already had some existing technology. However, Creaform’s objective would be to deliver a production model for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in January 2016. This was an interesting mission considering the project only started in March. But that’s definitely the kind of mission we strive on.
It is important to note that when we talk about a production model, we not only mean creating a machine that is functional. We mean creating a brand identity that is distinctive, attractive and that would trigger future growth options for the company. Our industrial designers brought their brainstorming skills out. Other criteria, including resolution, reliability and affordability, were also critical for Uniz, even though they are not always part of other 3D technology projects.
From the component design to material selection to the simulation testing for reliability to short production series, Creaform Engineering Services managed to deliver the SLASH on time for CES2016. Thanks to a very responsive customer that provided invaluable feedback during different project milestones, we can say “mission accomplished” on delivering a distinctive and very affordable product with a time-to-market of nine months.