UK-based 3D printing company and Stratasys partner, SYS Systems has revealed how they helped furniture design company, Herman Miller speed up its production process with in-house 3D printing capabilities.
Based at its new facility, known as Portal Mill in Melksham, the company, which specialises in designing offices workspaces, has installed the Stratasys Fortus 400mc Production Series 3D printer which has allowed the company to significantly cut their prototyping and production process down from 5-10 days to just a day.
The Fortus 400mc allows users to manufacture parts without the oppressive costs and time requirements of tooling and means changes can be made quickly and affordably, at any stage in the design cycle. Fortus machines are equipped with an extrusion head and gantry that maintains tight positional accuracy and close component tolerances. Based on the use of Stratasys’ proprietary FDM technology, the Fortus builds parts from stable, production-grade thermoplastics that continue to outperform nearly all competing technologies in accuracy, repeatability and strength.
“Gone are the days of having to work our designs around the limitations of traditional manufacturing processes,” says Stefan Kogut, R&D Workshop Lead at the Portal Mill site. “Among the many prototype parts to benefit is the cradle, which forms the back of an office chair. Despite being a large nylon part, we have managed to print it with ease on the Fortus 400mc.”
As well as proving highly useful for generating rugged prototypes that function like end products, the new printer is proving highly adept at producing tools and test components.
“Our development cycle is typically no less than about two years,” adds Nick Savage, Director Research Design & Development EMEA. “The exploration phase at the beginning of each project is about coming up with ideas, while the launch phase at the end of each project sees the first production run of components. The bit between is where we always struggle in terms of trying to reduce that cycle of time. This is where we are now using 3D printing to great advantage. In our test labs we can now model, build and test within a very short timeframe.”
Herman Miller says its looking forward to using the new Fortus machine to push the boundaries of design innovation even further. Its unique office chairs and furniture are manufactured and assembled at its facility in the UK but can be found in offices and homes the world over, and in the permanent collections of museums.