Monday, Jul 12, 2010 5:00 AM
BURLINGTON, Mass., USA - Steeda Autosports is using 3D printing technology from Z Corporation to give R&D what it's always given Mustang drivers: dramatically improved performance.
Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., Steeda makes the largest complete line of Ford-based accessories. Ranging from stunning wheels to shocks and springs to chrome radiator caps, the products make Ford cars drive better and look impressive. The Steeda aftermarket Cold-Air-Intake Kit, for example, adds 60 HP to the 5-Liter 2011 Mustang GT.
"ZPrinting prototypes is doing for our product development what our parts do for sports cars," said Steeda design engineer Aric Pogel. "We're moving a lot faster, shaving weeks off our new product introduction cycles, and saving $3,000 per product in machining and moldmaking costs."
3D printing produces tangible physical models from 3D designs much as document printers produce business letters from word processing files. Steeda compared the ZPrinter against other 3D printing technologies and determined it offered the lowest operating costs. Materials are more affordable than other alternatives, and much of it is recyclable.
For parts like oil caps and hood pin plates, 3D printing replaces costly and time-consuming CNC machining of early prototypes, saving three days on each new product. For more organic shapes like the molded tubes in the cold-air intake kits, 3D printing makes it easy for Pogel's team to test a wide range of sizes and shapes for performance and fit. "Machining these prototypes would be outrageously difficult and expensive," Pogel said. When the design is done, Pogel provides the mold maker with a final ZPrinted model. Instead of reading from documents, the mold maker scans the prototype and converts it into a mold. It's always accurate on the first try.
Prior to purchasing a ZPrinter, Steeda engineers would repeatedly go back and forth with mold makers revising mold designs until they settled on the final shape and fit. The new process saves time, money, and revision cycles.
Steeda occasionally bolts ZPrinted parts directly to an engine, as with an airflow measurement device that helps Steeda make critical design decisions. Here again, the company saves time and money over molded or machined parts. Pogel's team also ZPrints prototypes to give the sales force a preview of upcoming products, as with the company's new line of Spyder wheels.
"Overall," said Pogel, "ZPrinting just helps us develop a better-quality product."
About Z Corporation
Z Corporation 3D technologies help product designers, engineers and architects create the right designs the first time. Professionals use ZPrinter 3D printers, ZBuilder rapid prototyping machines and ZScanner® 3D laser scanners to compress the design cycle, generate new concepts, communicate clearly, foster collaboration, and reduce errors. These solutions span the entire 3D CAD/BIM design process from concept through design verification.
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