Product design and engineering firm PENSA is seeing the benefits of integrating additive manufacturing into its design and development workflows. The company, which had mainly been working with industrial 3D printing for limited applications in its design process, recently expanded its use of the technology with the integration of the MakerBot METHOD 3D printer.
Based in New York, PENSA is a full-service design and engineering firm that works with a number of high profile clients, including PepsiCo, Bayer, One Drop Foundation, D.I. Wire, OXO and more. Since installing the METHOD 3D printer by MakerBot, the company says it has significantly streamlined its product design process and reduced overall costs and turnaround times.
“PENSA is centered on invention, and we use 3D printing as a way to help us invent,” said Marco Perry, Co-founder of PENSA. “The MakerBot METHOD allows us to be uninhibited in our testing—a crucial step for invention and design. METHOD has proven itself to be an extremely reliable tool. The dimensional accuracy that we are getting with METHOD compared to any industrial FDM is as good or better than anything we have owned or used in the past.
“Before METHOD, we would only use industrial 3D printers to check for fit and finish,” he added. “Now, we are using 3D printing earlier in our process, and we can run through iterations very quickly, using it to check for functionality, ergonomics, and mechanics.”
MakerBot, known for its desktop 3D printers, introduced its new METHOD 3D printer in late 2018 with the promise of industrial-grade print quality at a desktop price. The professional machine integrates a circulated heated chamber, dual performance extruders, dry-sealed material bays, an “ultra-rigid” metal frame and other features that make it suitable for a broad range of professional applications.
PENSA was one of the companies that took notice of MakerBot’s new release, as the company recently installed the 3D printer for daily use. Product development teams at the firm now have the tools to test ideas early on in the design process and quickly iterate new designs. At the PENSA offices, the METHOD is being utilized for a plethora of things, including end-use parts and fixtures, form studies, volume studies and functional testing.
Though the company has worked with 3D printing for some time—using a combination of desktop and industrial machines for various stages of the product development process—it has found the METHOD to be a more robust, reliable system than the desktop machines and a cheaper and easier printer to operate than its previous industrial machines. Overall, the implementation of the professional desktop system has led to reduced production times and lower costs.
“We are thrilled to receive such an overwhelmingly positive response from our early customers,” said Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot. “As one of the leading product design firms in New York, PENSA understands better than most the need for reliable rapid prototyping. METHOD was engineered to enable product teams like those at PENSA to become more agile and help them speed up their innovation processes.”
The METHOD 3D printer is equipped with a range of sophisticated features that enable it to attain industrial-quality printing. Thanks to a number of Stratasys-patented technologies, such as the circulating heated chamber, dry-sealed material bays and PVA water soluble supports, the printer is capable of controlling its build environment to ensure repeatable prints, vertical layer uniformity and cylindricity. For PENSA, the printer’s ease-of-use has been a particular benefit.
“The reality when it comes to physical models is that it is just a step in the process. The real result for our clients is that it is a product that sells well for them,” added Perry, emphasizing the printer’s role in the product design stage. “The fact is that we rely heavily on our tools, just like a chef would rely heavily on a sharp knife. If a chef is thinking about how the knife works, he is not thinking about the meal he has to make. For me, the best tool is one where you do not have to think about how it works. We have to take it as a given that the product will work well because we are focused on the whole picture. The reliability of the METHOD really helps with that—it’s not even a thought. You just run it.”