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3-D Printing Enables Early Design Verification

Posted in Manufacturing Equipment by Camilla Andersson on July 26, 2011

A medical device design and production company dramatically reduced its time to market by using 3-D printing to visualise concepts and to test product design and functionality.

NordicNeuroLab (NNL), a Scandinavian medical design and production company specialising in functional MRI (fMRI) imaging, has incorporated 3-D printing into its visualisation and testing process. NNL’s product line features integrated hardware and software components that can be used in unison or separately. NNL operates in a competitive market where uncompromising product quality must be combined with tight control of costs. Extensive and stringent preproduction testing of new products is essential. Looking for an effective way to fully evaluate its product designs early on in the development process, NNL decided to use a 3-D printing system from Objet Geometries to create prototypes at different stages.

This image shows a NNL product model made with the Objet 3-D printing technology.
This image shows a 3-D product model made with Objet printing technology compared to the final product.

Objet Geometries Ltd develops, manufactures and globally markets high-resolution 3-D printing systems and materials that utilise PolyJet photopolymer jetting technology to print ultra-thin 16-micron layers. Objet systems use Objet’s FullCure photopolymer resins to create accurate and highly detailed 3-D models.

Objet’s 3-D printing technology
is instrumental in NNL’s ability to meet customers’ demands for made-to-order imaging units and peripherals. It enables NNL to visualise concepts and to test form and fit in regard to other components at an early stage during the design process. NNL also uses Objet 3-D printing solutions to test ergonomics and evaluate the overall design. Additionally, one of the main reasons NNL chose Objet was because it would enable printed parts to be used not just for prototyping, but also in the final product.

Objet Models Prevent Errors in Injection Moulding Process
“Using the Objet Eden 3-D printing solution is the ideal way for us to easily and quickly meet our customer’s demands,” says Svein Reidar Rasmussen, Hardware Developer at NordicNeuroLab. “During development and design of a new product, we use rapid prototyping with an Objet model to show us how the final product is going to feel.” This helps NNL make decisions and solve problems when other external products are used in combination with its solutions.

“Objet gives us the ability to quickly verify our designs. In turn, this has enabled us to speed up our workflow and create a highly effective trial and error – or test and trial – development and design process. We are seeing a much quicker time to market for our product line,” says Rasmussen.

NNL makes full use of the rubber-like properties of the Tango materials, a family of materials offering various levels of elastomer characteristics, to evaluate the ergonomics of buttons and controls. It uses FullCure720, Objet’s original multipurpose transparent material for standard plastics simulation, to create translucent models of product shells. With electronics inserted inside the shells, NNL can better understand and identify otherwise unpredictable design flaws.

Objet 3-D printing has helped NNL eliminate errors in the preproduction phase of injection moulding. The time to generate moulds and the costs that these incur had always been a significant portion of the costs of developing any new NNL product. The ability to check, before production, that the mould is correct saves a lot of hassle and prevents errors in the injection moulding process, dramatically reducing overall costs. Additionally, for NNL, the value of Objet models goes far beyond prototyping. “The high accuracy, smooth surfaces and strength of Objet models give us the possibility to use many parts in the end product," explains Rasmussen.

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3D printing is very good.

3D printing is very good. That would be the thing they will need to put their efforts to. - Feed the Children Reviews