Mishimoto Automotive Case Study - MakerBot Case Study
Posted on July 25 2017
Mishimoto is always pushing to make their process faster and more efficient. “Moving faster is everything to us,” says Jeremy Godin, vice president of production at Mishimoto. In 2011, when Godin joined Mishimoto, products could take as long as two years to develop and come to market. To prototype new parts, engineers worked with cardboard and sheet metal. “A lot of the times that fell short, because you can’t simulate complex geometry with basic sheet metal parts,” says product engineer Steve Wiley.
Mishimoto had a Stratasys Dimension uPrint, but the disposable build plate was often too small for their needs, and materials were costly: roughly $800 for five spools of ABS.
Earlier this year, Mishimoto bought a MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer, with a massive build volume of 11.8” x 12” x 18” and a sturdy build plate. The MakerBot PLA Filament for the Z18 costs just pennies a gram. The ability to iterate on a cost effective 3D printer allows Mishimoto engineers to prototype quickly and more freely, almost like they are sketching.
The MakerBot Replicator Z18 allows Mishimoto to 3D print larger parts in a single piece. Regular use saves the company time because engineers can work on other projects while the 3D printer makes a model. More time allows for quicker iteration of multiple versions, for a more refined design. The Z18 parts can be made to scale and fit to the vehicle before going straight to manufacturing. The whole process cuts the development time significantly and can get products to market six to eight weeks ahead of the competition. Given that 30% of Mishimoto’s product prototypes involves 3D printing, the speed-to-market advantage adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional sales each year. On that basis, the team says, the MakerBot Replicator Z18 “will pay for itself.”
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