Reimagining Manufacturing: The Impact of 3D Printing in Australia

April 29, 2024

In recent years, 3D Printing in Australia has experienced a significant influx, empowering innovators and entrepreneurs to restructure their traditional manufacturing strategies. This revolutionary technology has led to the development of more efficient and cost-effective solutions across various industries, including architecture, automotive, defence, medical, and more.

Formero HP MJF Printer in lab

 

The Pioneering Project

One of the striking examples of how 3D printed parts are transforming the industry is the case of ‘Project Flock‘. This innovative Australian initiative aimed to address the pressing issue of bike-related accidents, which annually result in over 9,000 hospitalisations across the country.

The team at Project Flock conceived the idea of a rear bike light, named ‘FLOCK LIGHT’, designed to enhance visibility and recognition of cyclists by motorists. The light utilises the principle of ‘biomotion’, a cognitive phenomenon where the human brain instinctively recognises human movement. This inventive design won the Australian James Dyson award in 2020, demonstrating the potential of additive manufacturing in fostering creativity and entrepreneurship.

The Challenge

The primary hurdle that the Project Flock team faced was the high cost of manufacturing their product using traditional methods. Conventional manufacturing strategies, such as injection moulding, demand high upfront tooling costs, making the process financially straining for a start-up.

Moreover, the risk of modifications post-production added another layer of financial uncertainty. To overcome these challenges, the team needed a flexible and cost-effective solution, which they found in 3D printing technology.

The Solution

Hands with blue gloves lining up black 3d Printed parts

Formero, a leading provider of 3D printing services in Australia, proposed a hybrid manufacturing solution to the Project Flock team. This strategy involved using injection moulding for critical components and 3D printing for the remaining parts.

The Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing process was recommended due to its isotropic mechanical properties, providing strength comparable to injection moulded parts. This approach significantly reduced tooling costs, enabling a more affordable first production run.

The Benefits of 3D Printing

The adoption of 3D printing technology provided the Project Flock team with numerous advantages. Firstly, it allowed them to test the product in the market and make necessary adjustments before investing in large-scale manufacturing.

Moreover, the ‘manufacturing on demand’ approach facilitated rapid prototyping, enabling the team to quickly test for waterproofing, impact, assembly, and certification.

“The team at Formero are an absolute pleasure to work with. Throughout the whole FLOCK LIGHT project they always delivered on time and the quality of the deliverables has always been second to none. Particularly as the FLOCK LIGHT is our first go at bringing a product to market I’ve always felt confident to have them as a supplier.” – Tim Ottaway | Co-founder and Design Manager

The Results

With the initial production of FLOCK LIGHTS well underway, the team is expecting to dispatch the first orders by late April 2024. As of now, 80 pre-production samples have been released for testing, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

The team is now on track to deliver not only the first Biomotion tail light on the market but also one of the first 3D printed bike lights. This achievement has earned them a spot as a finalist in the Victoria Premier’s Design Award.

Unexpected Opportunities

3D printing technology opened up more opportunities for Project Flock than initially anticipated. The flexible nature of the technology has allowed the team to offer co-branded FLOCK LIGHTS to value-aligned brand partners, creating a unique selling point.

“Working with the team at Formero personally got me very excited about manufacturing again. 3D printing just made so much sense, and for the first time since we started, manufacturing parts and assembling our product right here in Melbourne became possible. We were able to work with the team in person, resolve issues and iterate the design quickly and effectively. They were such a pleasure to work with” – Marie Penny | Co-Founder & Business Manager

The Role of Formero in 3D printing in Australia

Formero’s contribution to the success of Project Flock showcases the transformative potential of 3D printing in Australia. The advantages of using Formero’s services include:

  1. Facilitating a low-scale, hybrid manufacturing strategy.
  2. Assisting in multiple rounds of testing and iteration during the production process.
  3. Providing strong and durable 3D printed parts, comparable to injection moulded parts.
  4. Enabling local manufacturing and assembly of products.
  5. Offering quick prototyping, feedback, and adjustments through ‘just in time’ manufacturing.
  6. Connecting clients with reliable suppliers for injection moulded parts.
  7. Providing design optimisation for 3D printing and manufacturing.

Conclusion

The story of Project Flock is a testament to the transformative potential of 3D printing in Australia. As more companies recognise the benefits of this technology, we can expect to see a surge in creativity and entrepreneurship, propelling Australia to the forefront of the global manufacturing industry.

Contact Us

For more information on 3D printing services, feel free to contact us or call us on +61 3 8899 7280.


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