How Speedo Designers Took a Big Lead with Stratasys Multi-Material 3D Printing
Top swimming gear brand Speedo has used its Stratasys Objet350 Connex 3D Printer for over half a decade. Famous for both kitting out top swimmers and its supremely secret product development process, Speedo recently gave Stratasys a small glimpse inside and today we will be sharing their story with you.
The product development arm of Speedo is focused at their research and development center, where 3D Printing plays a vital role. They use their Stratasys PolyJet-based 3D printer for prototyping and design validation, both vital processes prior to production for equipment such as goggles and other “hard goods,” including training aids and swim caps. Early and accurate design validation not only shortens the design cycle, but also discovers design flaws prior to production whilst providing users with an accurate representation of the final product.
Prior to having a 3D printer in-house, the product development cycle could take weeks or months and relied on a maximum of two hand-tooled samples before going into large-scale production. Changes made after the production tooling was created were prohibitively expensive. Now, designs can be 3D printed, in multiple materials when necessary, in a day or less and be tested directly in the pool. Using a Stratasys 3D Printer for design verification during the product development cycle means that many more design iterations are feasible, weeding out mistakes and creating better designed products.
Creative Freedom Goes Freestyle
Chris Johnson, a design manager for hard goods at Speedo, explained that 3D printing goggle models in multiple materials – transparent and rigid (VeroClear) to simulate polycarbonate lenses and rubber-like black (TangoBlackPlus) to simulate silicone – offered product designers nearly immediate opportunity to test for fit and function, while the cost-effectiveness allowed multiple design iterations. At Speedo, a prototype for goggles is 3D printed in multiple materials on the Stratasys Objet350 Connex 3D Printer, ready for immediate design validation in the pool at Aqualab.
“Within that usual five-week period of one handmade sample, with 3D printing we can do a number of different iterations and really refine that product so that the comfort and fit is optimum.”
Freedom to push the design envelope with 3D printing is helping Aqualab stay out in front. Johnson added that using the Stratasys solution has changed the whole design cycle, resulting in a superior product.
“It allows us to de-risk; by doing these additional iterations we end up with a better product. It’s opened up new avenues, new opportunities because the 3D printer it now at the heart of the process.”
The several advantages boasted by Stratasys' Multi-Material Polyjet technology are realized regardless of industry. At Cimetrix we make daily use of both the Objet500 Connex3 and Objet260 Connex3 printing platforms, which provide our Applications Specialists with speed and accuracy, producing parts that represent the final product with unparalleled realism. Within our Innovation Centre, we use these printers to produce parts for applicaitons ranging from initial prototyping and design, to functioning, end-use components. To learn more, please do not hestiate to reach out to our team of Applications Specialists here - with a diverse background and extensive experience within the realm of additive manufacturing, our team has the tools and knowledge to assist you with even the most advanced projects. Be sure to poke around our website to see all that Cimetrix has to offer!