Robert Welch Designs - MakerBot Case Study
Posted on July 11 2017
About Robert Welch Designs Ltd.
Based out of Chipping Camden, UK, Robert Welch Designs Ltd. went from being a one man firm in 1955 to a brand known worldwide today. Whether for the living room, kitchen, dining room, or bathroom, this home goods company creates a wide range of classic-contemporary products that are meant to last. Most products are affordably priced and can be found in stores like Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. With a legacy of work in stainless steel, the business also takes commissions from clients, like royals, world leaders, and premier companies.
Robert Welch Designs puts contemporary twists on classic styles and pushes the boundaries for its ideas. In the early stages of product development, each new design is questioned, challenged, and refined until it meets the company’s distinct standards of timeless, elegant beauty. With such a huge array of products, Robert Welch Designs needs a means of prototyping and iterating on designs that is fast, effective, and precise.
Since many products are stainless steel, glass, or silver, it’s critical to understand what a product feels and looks like before it’s manufactured. Once a design is finalized, the CAD drawing and file are sent to the company’s factory in Vietnam. Sometimes, the factory also recommends small tweaks which need to be validated.
Robert Welch Designs discovered a preliminary answer in 2006. According to Rupert Welch, Managing Director and son of Robert Welch, “Ten years ago, we bought our first 3D printer, and I have to say, unquestionably, I think it’s one of the best things we ever did.”
To quickly iterate on ideas, reduce costs, and validate changes from the factory, Robert Welch Designs now employs three different 3D printers: a MakerBot Replicator® Z18 3D Printer, MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, and a Stratasys Objet30 3D Printer. The company first chose the Replicator Z18 for its larger build volume and its ability to 3D print a 1mm wall for a pitcher. With that resolution, the MakerBot 3D Printers allow the design team to explore and evaluate many different product concepts early in the product development phase. For example, according to Senior Designer Kit deBretton Gordon, they’ve prototyped “50 to 100 different spoons, changing the shape a little bit, adding an angle. And it changes the pattern completely.” Later in the design process, designers 3D print on the Stratasys Objet30 3D Printer for advanced, production-ready models. They also use this 3D printer to validate changes from the factory.
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