Fender rocks improvements in time to market with Stratasys
3D Printing Case – Consumer Goods
Few American brands are as renowned as Fender, whose iconic guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals and PA equipment haven’t only endured the test of time but continue to bring value and innovation that is unmatched in the market.
Thanks to Stratasys 3D Printed Prototypes, Fender has managed to improve its time to market by a dramatic 30 to 40 per cent. Credit for this goes to its in-house design center which is powered by the Objet Eden350V 3D Printer from Stratasys.
Strength in superior products while maintaining lower costs
Exceptional products are the key to Fender’s unrivalled reputation. Shawn Green, senior model maker, relies on Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology to develop detailed prototypes faster and more cost-effectively than ever before. Working with the Objet Eden 350V 3D Printer, instead of costly tooling processes and equipment, Green’s team can achieve more creative and accurate concept designs with exceptional details.
A recent example is the Fender Passport sound equipment, a re-released, all-in-one transportable PA system. Fender’s R&D team 3D printed the different housing pieces, gluing them together and painting the parts with metallic colors during post-processing.
“We were actually able to put electronics and speakers in these and do sound tests for speakers, volume testing, and some heat testing—long before we spent one dime on tooling,” explained Green.
A streamlined process that rocks and reduces Production Cycles
Efficiency is at the heart of a streamlined production process. This is especially true as the demand for faster innovation and improved supply chain efficiencies pose new challenges for manufacturers, 3D printing offers a powerful solution with its iterative design process.
Fender is experiencing an accelerated time-to-market while reducing new product development risks with additive manufacturing methods. The latest amplifier, the G-DEC (Guitar Digital Entertainment Center), went through various design iterations and market research studies before its final unveiling only six months after initial concept. According to Green, traditional prototyping methods alone would have taken six to 12 months.
As Green pointed out, “If I have an idea for something new and edgy, I can design it and have a prototype in just a few hours. If it doesn’t work out, I’ve only lost an afternoon instead of a week.”
This level of efficiency offers notable savings for a company as large as Fender whose production volume is quite formidable.
Collaboration Made Easy
At the heart of Fender’s DNA is creativity and collaboration, a delicate merging of technology and art which creates more than musical instruments and tools but inspirational objects that transcend into iconic products behind some of the greatest musicians, past and present.
3D printing has improved collaboration between Fender’s R&D and marketing departments. “It’s so nice to be able to not just go to marketing and show them pictures or drawings,” said Green. “We can show them an actual product, put it in their hands, set it in front of them and let them touch it. You can show something on paper all day long, but when you give them something real they can touch, people really get excited.”
3D printing has become an integral part of Fender’s everyday operations, with around-the-clock projects ranging from small amp knobs to full guitar body designs. “3D printing has pretty much affected everything we do,” added Green. “I think it’s such a valuable tool for any designer, anyone who is making products. It gets your idea into hands so much faster, and it’s just a great technology to see your ideas come to fruition.”