Speedo Uses 3D Printing to Take the Lead
World famous swimming gear brand Speedo have been using 3D printing technology for over half a decade. Using the Stratasys Objet350 Connex printer, Speedo gave us a small glimpse inside their creative process.
Their product development department resides in Nottingham, England in a research and development center named the Aqualab. With the use of their Polyjet 3D printer from Stratasys, the Speedo team produces prototypes and validates design prior to full-scale production for swim equipment such as goggles, training aids and swim caps. Early prototypes allow for an efficient and time-saving design cycle that works to screen out design flaws prior to production.
Before using 3D printing technology, it would take weeks or even months to produce samples that acted as prototypes prior to a product’s full-scale production. Alterations to products’ were expensive but now, multiple 3D printed designs can be printed in a day or less and be ready for pool testing.
Creative Freedom Goes Freestyle
Chris Johnson, Design Manager for Speedo explains that the ability to print swimming goggles in multiple materials (transparent, polycarbonate, silicone) offered his team the ability to test the product’s fit and function immediately and whilst saving both money and resources through the design process. He writes, “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”.
3D printing technology allows designers the freedom to push the envelope and for companies like Speedo to stay ahead of the competition. Johnson adds that with Stratasys’ 3D printing solutions, their entire design cycle has been reinvented, resulting in a superior product in the hands of its swimmers and consumers. He adds, “It allows us to de-risk; by doing these additional iterations we end up with a better product. It’s opened up new avenues and new opportunities because the 3D printer is now at the heart of the process”.
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