Charting a New Course for Manufacturing

Norwegian marine equipment manufacturer Sørlandets Aluminiumprodukter (SAP) specializes in producing products such as helmsman chairs, table columns and other equipment for the marine industry.  With tight deadlines and high expectations, the team at SAP relies on additive manufacturing technology to design and build quickly without compromising quality. Harald Jansen, SAP’s Product Development Manager began looking into investing in a 3D printer in-house and has owned a Fortus 3D printing system ever since which helps test fit and functionality.


Beyond Prototyping

The technology has changed the way SAP works. Its first project, based entirely on prototyping, was an iterative feasibility study for a new table column with adjustable, telescopic height. Over a two-week period, designers produced a dozen different models, with varying designs, in both polycarbonate and ABS. “The prototypes gave us the clear answers we were looking for,” says Jansen. “This was the kind of product development we wanted, and yet we had barely begun to see its potential.”

Prototyping turned out to be the tip of the iceberg for SAP, as it quickly learned how durable the parts could be. Andy Smith, SAP’s Industrial Designer, elaborates on the company’s transition from prototyping to manufacturing. “We were struggling to meet a deadline on a series of particularly complex driller operator chairs for the offshore industry. Most of the design was completely new, yet it had to be out of the door in a matter of days.” As a shortcut, the team used the Fortus 3D Printer to pump out small, intricate parts for testing. Not only were they strong and durable, the shiny black parts looked so good on the chairs that the team knew they could be more than just prototypes.

“Who would have guessed we’d be actively engaged in rapid manufacturing so soon after investing in a new rapid prototyping tool?” — Andy Smith, SAP

Today, SAP produces hundreds of production parts with their Fortus 3D printer, many of them that are ready the following day.