Applied Rapid Technologies Case Study

While cast urethane is still used in some situations, the process is more costly and takes significantly longer than using the NXE 400 printers, and that is the reason the team at ART is transitioning as many projects as possible to their NXE 400 fleet of printers.

Challenge

Urethane casting buttons and switches, jigs and fixtures

While additive manufacturing has been at the center of ART’s business since the beginning, today about half of the end products they produce are not 3D printed, but cast urethane. Casting in urethane has allowed ART to produce low cost plastic parts – such as buttons and toggle switches – with a quick turnaround.

It is a very hands on process that takes a minimum of 24 hours per mold, requires a significant amount of labor, and the end result is a mold capable of up to 25 parts depending on the material being cast. That said, the effort appears worthwhile based on the high demand from their customers – “Our cast urethane is about 50% of our business right now and we’re almost maxed out,” says LeMaster.

In addition to urethane, ART follows a similar 24 hour process for silicone molding. With such high demand, LeMaster and the team at ART were all but maxed out with a very real cap on the volume of projects they could take on.

Solution

Boosting Throughput and Bottom Line

Once the team at ART realized the potential of Nexa3D’s LSPc® technology for producing parts they immediately invested. “We were going to get one NXE 400 and we ended up getting three of those in April 2021. By the end of 2021 we had purchased two more NXE 400s and one NXD 200, and in June [2022] we purchased two XiPs,” recalls LeMaster.

At the crux of the investment in the NXE 400 3D printers is throughput. “Typically with cast urethanes on some of our faster parts we’re cycling parts 3-5 times a day so if I need 25 pieces I’m looking at 5 days of casting and cleanup. With the Nexa3D printers I can often print all 25 pieces in an hour or two and then clean up… it’s just so much faster than the cast urethane process. It really is a no-brainer when it comes to speed.”

 

Building a Successful Service Bureau with Nexa3D

ART (and now Obsidian) has the benefit of over two decades of 3D printing and manufacturing experience, and it’s safe to say that they’ve built a business that is flourishing with a long list of satisfied, repeat customers. That said, LeMaster is always keeping his eyes on the horizon for the next thing that can give his customers the best possible experience while giving ART an edge over the competition, “Being a service provider with the Nexa3D machines – having 8 of them online now – just gives us more flexibility to take on projects and turn them around quickly. For years we called this industry rapid prototyping, it’s sort of morphed into additive manufacturing, but to be rapid is still a big part of this business. If I can get a job in today, print it overnight, and ship it out tomorrow, that’s a big benefit to our customers. Having a fleet of Nexa3D machines online here gives us more capacity to turn those jobs around very quickly.”

 
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