Digital Warehouse Eliminates Inventory CostSeptember 11, 2020
Formero (Formerly GoProto ANZ) offers customised manufacturing services including prototyping and final part production in both plastic and metal. They were among the first companies in the world to adopt HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions.
One of Formero’s customers, Ropes Edge, makes “rope access” products for industrial applications. With limited to no manufacturing background, the company consulted a third-party designer to help him bring his invention “the Vortex” to life.
Dirk Dorenbros owner of Ropes Edge and a zeal for growth, wanted to expand globally, without incurring distribution and warehouse expenses. After using HP MJF 3D Printing for prototyping and destructive testing, Dirk was blown away with the durability of the prototypes, which gave him the confidence to use the same process for low-volume production.
CHALLENGE: Dirk noticed an area of his industry that needed significant improvement, so he started designing a device that could protect ropes from catastrophic damage from sharp edges. “I had a choice to make,” Dorenbos said. “I went to a local designer and the designer had Formero as one of their current manufacturers. Once we had the functional prototypes in hand, we gathered data from some rigorous real-world destructive testing. After the material and the product proved themselves with above-and-beyond results, it was time to manufacture. I decided to work with Formero directly.”
SOLUTION: Formero’s Digital Manufacturing Network (DMN) provided Ropes Edge the freedom to manufacture locally, providing economic feasibility and a broader global reach.
The HP Digital Manufacturing Network means that Formero applies the same standards of care, engineering, inspection, and continual process evaluation for low product quantities as they would for high quantities when using injection moulding processes.
Using injection moulding to create parts for these products would take 6 to 8 weeks plus several additional weeks to make adjustments, modify tools, and conduct re-trials. Ropes Edge considered using FDM or SLS, but both processes result in parts that aren’t strong enough and are too expensive to produce.
With Formero’s in-house HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, Ropes Edge can receive both prototypes and final parts approximately 3 to 5 days after their order is placed. Ropes Edge was also able to take advantage of distributed manufacturing, which helps cut down on shipping costs.
RESULT: Not only did HP MJF allow Ropes Edge to use 3D printing in the prototype and early product development stage, but because of its durability, increased speed, great surface finish, and excellent material properties, they were actually able to use it for production-type applications.
There’s no tooling to invest in, you’re able to do geometries that you can’t do with traditional manufacturing, you’re able to change your design very quickly. All these things stacked together indicate that this is a game-changing technology. It’s extremely exciting that Dorenbos is essentially a field technician that came up with an idea for a product that is quite complex and also had extremely high physical demands, and he was able to use HP Multi Jet Fusion to get it into production very quickly and easily at low costs.
Dirk’s desire to expand into Asia Pacific became a feasible solution using HP’s global supplier network.
Within Australia, Formero produces on-demand parts and then ships directly to Ropes Edge’s customers – anywhere within Asia Pacific region. This leads to much leaner inventory, which allows them to save money in supply chain execution. Reducing Ropes Edge inventory costs and maintaining lean, agile supply operations.