Congratulations to Innovarai and Madorra Medical who are among Portland Business Journal's 2017 Small Business & Innovation awardees!  Their achievements will be recognized and their products showcased on November 1st from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Hilton Hotel.

Rapid prototyping and low-volume production, made possible through 3D printing (additive manufacturing), are lowering the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and start ups.  These advanced manufacturing technologies lower costs, reduce lead times, and optimize designs, making product launches more affordable and timely.

RapidMade Accelerates Pace and Elevates Quality of Product Launch

Injection Molding Case Study

3D Printing, or Rapid Prototyping as it is also known, is a much faster and cost effective solution for testing and perfecting digital designs. Its ability to fabricate parts overnight without any direct labor, programming or tooling means 3D printing technologies carry many advantages over traditional technologies like injection molding for short turns and small-batch production.

 Sometimes 3D printing only goes so far when developing and manufacturing products in their early stages. In those instances, Rapid Injection Molding can take products to the finish line.

An American-made LED light bulb manufacturer engineered a version that was bigger and brighter than its competition.  The company quickly learned that RapidMade's injection molding expertise could test, validate and even manufacture its light bulbs in ways that 3D Printing simply could not match.

RapidMade accelerates the typical injection molding process by providing a short cut between prototyping and production tooling. After the rapid prototyping client finalizes its product for injection molding, RapidMade creates a cheaper and better solution by making pre-final tooling out of aluminum. This option allows customers get to market sooner than other injection mold processes and helps gain customer feedback to improve products. Getting a product to market sooner generates more revenue to invest in further product development and long-term tooling. 

 Material

Since the customer didn't know what the final material of the bulb should be, cutting the mold and testing multiple materials, including different grades of ABS and Polycarbonate, helped pinpoint the final material and even helped estimate eventual mass manufacturing costs. Additionally, electronics products must go through rigorous UL testing to ensure consumer safety before the product can be sold in stores.

Color and clarity are other traits vital to the lighting industry.  Because 3D printers must run manufacturing-grade material that is unadulterated, optimizing these characteristics can be difficult. With injection molding, however, one can custom blend different clear and opaque pigments with clear plastic to prototype different levels of clarity and color. So the company could test very specific color profiles to perfect its formula in the final product.

 Finish

Finish is extremely important when working with lighting, as well as other consumer products. A matte finish diffuses light at a very different rate than a polished one. Due to the layered nature, inherent in the 3D printing process, even the highest detail machines will have some level of surface striation. Additionally, most filament or powder technologies will have a very rough finish beyond the layer lines. Achieving custom finishes requires polishing, sanding, and painting of each individual unit, making it is extremely labor intensive and expensive.

Alternatively, injection molding shoots molten plastic into a cavity which picks up the texture of that cavity. That means one only needs to finish a mold once to get repetitive shots of that finish. And molds can be polished and textured to prototype a variety of finishes before settling on the desired one.

Volume

A light bulb is a relatively low-cost consumer good. These goods are meant to be sold in large volume at low cost. Tooling to produce those volumes inexpensively enough can take months to make and require high upfront investment. Many businesses are interested in small and medium-batch options that are more cost effective and higher quality than 3D printing to excite investors, test markets and stoke demand. 

 The company secured a prototyping option with relatively little upfront investment that served as a bridge tool to get actual product out into the marketplace. Aside from the aforementioned quality concerns, this could not have been cost effectively achieved with 3D printing; one cannot sell a light bulb where the housings cost $38 to the manufacturer. Creating large volumes of parts on a 3D Printer can also take much longer than injection molding, making it harder to fill orders. Injection Molding can really provide exceptional value to early-stage manufacturers when producing runs of hundreds or thousands of parts for low cost very quickly.

 

As you plan last-minute expenditures for 2016, please remember RapidMade can complete most projects in days, not weeks.  

We offer: 

  • Rapid prototyping & design engineering services

  • Low-volume production: 3D-printed parts, tools, patterns & molds

  • Reproduced obsolete parts with reverse engineering & 3D scanning as needed

  • To-scale architectural, sales & training models; cutaways showing internal components are optional

  • Promotional items including customized ornaments, awards & business card holders

Just in time for the Holidays, we are introducing our new Thermoforming technology for your Prototyping & finished product needs.

Then let us help you ring in the New Year!  We've expanded our Engineering Services to include:

  • Product design & integration

  • Standard equipment customization

  • Training & user manual development

  • On-site installation & training

  • Specialized tooling & part design/manufacture

It's been a great year, and we have our wonderful customers to thank for it.

Happy Holidays! 

The RapidMade Team

  

RapidMade's founders were recently interviewed by U.S. News and World for an article explaining how 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has helped entrepreneurs innovate.

Here's an excerpt from the story which was published on line this week:

Renee and Mark Eaton, with their son Micah Chaban, founded RapidMade, a 3-D printing, manufacturing and engineering company, based in Portland, Oregon, in 2011. About to graduate from the University of Oregon, Chaban told his parents he was contemplating job searching in Germany. Living in England at the time, the Eatons had read an article in “The Economist” on 3-D printing and the idea for RapidMade was born.

’We had both worked in manufacturing for years and were disheartened that so many kids were gravitating to lower-paying service jobs because high-tech manufacturing jobs either weren’t well known or readily available,’ Renee Eaton, chief executive officer of RapidMade, wrote in an email.

’During our careers, we had both been forced to close or downsize plants and relocate production, so we wanted very much to bring back manufacturing. We thought Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) was a great local and sustainable way to do that.’

She explained that entrepreneurs can develop and evaluate a design in little time with rapid prototyping and that by using 3-D printing to create tools, they can decrease lead times and cost. Most of RapidMade’s customers are new to 3-D printing, and the company’s engineers can help determine the best technology to create a product from a design, she wrote.

Injection molds shouldn't take months to get...

  • Production Quotes in 1 - 3 Business Days. Tooling and Samples in 5 Weeks or Less.
  • Design, Engineer, Prototype and Manufacture All in One Place.
  • Full Expedited Production Orders in 4 Weeks or Less.
  • Get the Best Price and Quality Plastic Parts With RapidMade.

RapidMade Advantages Include:

  • Design and production for embedded stock and custom components including: Circuit boards, lights, mechanical components, clear windows and magnifiers, locks, springs, fasteners, and much more.
  • Extensive experience prototyping and testing precise mechanical assemblies.
  • In house assembly for complicated projects.
  • One stop design, prototyping and manufacture limits exposure to risk between suppliers.
  • Streamlined development brings your product to market faster.
  • Iterative testing with customer approval every step of the way ensures you get the product you envisioned.
  • Hundreds of available mold finishes and textures.
  • Wide range of standard plastics options including ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon, Polyethylene, Polypropylene and composites. Custom plastics available on request.
  • Over 70 years of engineering and manufacturing experience will exceed your expectations.

While the hype around 3D printing may be a bit overblown, there are genuine reasons for businesses to take notice.  Early adopters have had great success, and not just in rapid prototyping and reverse engineering.  Additive manufacturing now allows mass customization and provides these benefits:

  • Accelerate your speed-to-market
  • Meet the needs of more customers
  • Create novel products not possible until now.
  • Find unique production solutions for quantities as low as 1 - 1,000
  • Lower your costs - while being more environmentally responsible
  • Simplify - and localize - your supply chains
  • Create unique marketing tools
  • Capture increased market share

Learn more.

 

Richard D'Aveni has a warning for traditional manufacturers: ignore the digitization of manufacturing and get left behind.  In a recent Harvard Business Review article, D'Aveni, Professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, drew parallels between the current debate about traditional versus additive manufacturing with another in the '80s on digital versus analog technology for phones - we all know how that one turned out for Motorola and Sony.

Instead D'Aveni suggests that leadership recognize the need to change and coax along subordinates using a four-step process:

1. Gather knowledge from the outside. Assume key stakeholders are likely to embrace the status quo.  So seek out additive manufacturing experts to learn how 3D printing can be used in your industry.  Make sure to include your subordinates in the discussion to gain their buy in.

2. Move one baby step at time.  As with any significant change, break down the initiative into manageable pilot projects that allow the organization to manage implementation.

3. Focus and prioritize.   Select opportunities that are both "promising and feasible."

4. Keep an eye on the long run.  Ensure your efforts support your firm's long-term goals.

Working with knowledgeable experts is a great way to quickly access all the benefits of additive manufacturing.  3D printing is a fast, cost effective way to design, prototype, market and launch you product. Many businesses, however, find they need multiple 3D printers and materials to meet all their creative needs. If you use a 3D printer for less than 120 hours per month, or you need to print different materials, the cost of ownership can be prohibitive: purchasing and maintaining multiple 3D printers and software; hiring, managing and paying technicians; buying and storing materials, and worrying about machine technology obsolescence. 

Our Print In The Cloud service is designed to overcome these challenges. For a small monthly fee, you can have immediate access to a range of 3D printers including industrial-grade FDM, professional prototyping and full-color machines. Plans start at 20 hours per month rising to 100 hours per month for our more experienced users. You have full access to the machines without the cost of maintenance, operation and obsolescence.

Start today, skip to the Service Pricing form to take advantage of 3D printing in the cloud.

 

Come see RapidMade at PSU's Business Accelerator Company 11th Annual Showcase.  We are officially graduating from the program tonight, Monday, May 18 at 5:15!

Here's the agenda:

Doors at 4pm
Pitch group 1:  4:30pm
Pitch Group 2 & Company Awards: 5:15pm
Pitch Group 3: 6:00pm