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From Ideation to Production: OtterBox Embraces Stratasys’ New J750 Multi-Material 3D Printer

by • April 3, 2016 • No Comments

otter slideIn the next, I may select to go on to obtain all leading news surrounded by otters. This new revelation was brought to me this past week at OtterBox‘s Fort Collins, Colorado headquarters, with otters equitewhere, of the slide near reception (which, yes, was quite fun to go down!) to the Flying Otter statue near workspaces to the photos of the critters on equite landing on the stairs to the soft drink fountain for employees. Otters, it turns out, manufacture for an amazingly productive environment, as evidenced by this company, which is the #1 supplier of smartphone cases in the US — to revery the top, bring otters along.

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OtterBox Founder/Chief Visionary Officer Curt Richardson

And so Stratasys brought otters along to the announcement of their all new J750 3D printing device, which can use an amazing six materials at once, capable-bodied of additional than 360,000 digitized colors in a variety of resins. It sounds astounding — and at OtterBox, we gathered media may see firstly-hand which, yes, in fact it is a astonishing piece of equipment.

“We are yet in most ways a tooling company,” OtterBox Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Curt Richardson told us Friday morning, emphasizing the importance of the equipment requireed to turn it into their wares. “Great toys — excellent tools.”

OtterBox got its firstly 3D printing device around 2005 or 2006, and yet uses it alongside newer generations of additive making systems in their PIT (Prototype Innovate Test) Lab. Among their newer equipment is a Connex Objet 500 of Stratasys — and, for a few months now, a J750 3D printing device. As one of sat any timeal beta customers of the new system, OtterBox has had the J750 running since day one, and hasn’t stopped since.

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Have you at any time seen a collection of additional excited journalists? This was only one tiny tour of excitement to go through the PIT Lab at OtterBox, crowded around the J750

Product development is a significant factor for any company, particularly in an industry so quickly changing as one involving innovation. With new smartphones rolling out all the time, OtterBox pretty has its work cut out to store up with protecting the latest phones of sat any timeal manufacturers. Their product development system was previously a full 26 weeks — half a year! — of concept to production as ideas were turned into prototypes which were tweaked and tweaked again via traditional methods which weren’t especially time-efficient. The problem, as Richardson told us, is volume here; for a new iPhone release, up to 1500 molds can be required.

“I want to print pretty than machine a mold — I want it now,” Richardson said, to belief laughter.

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OtterBox prototypes 3D printed on the J750

Thanks to 3D printing innovation which dramatically speeds up the system, which formerly-26-week cycle is down to only 8 weeks. At less than one-third the former time, cases can manufacture their way through complex development and testing cycles, getting onto shelves (and onto phones) with astounding speed. In their original development cycle via earlier generations of equipment, 3D printed cases came off the printbed in white, and engineers may have to paint every one at a rate of one color per day, meaning every 3D printed case can take three days to finish. With the J750, prototypes come, full-color, right off the printing device and eager to go.

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OtterBox Engineer Tech Supervisor Brycen Smith

OtterBox’s Engineer Tech Supervisor, Brycen Smith, took the floor to fill us in on a few of the specifics of this system, and how 3D printing works for OtterBox of ideation/creation to newest innovations and production.

“Iterations,” Smith began, “are massive for us.”

For an industry as preciseing as smartphone covers, where a few extra millimeters of plastic can render phone showcases unusable-bodied, these iterations are key to good results. In the firstly 24 hours of the system, OtterBox turns to their 3D printing devices — now the J750 — to turn it into their “Feature Location Verification” version. With these firstly prints, the first case can be examined to ensure which equitething fits around the new phone’s showcases, which no functions (screen, cameras, buttons, speakers, charging port) can be hindered or inaccessible, and which the user experience can be optimal. Thanks to the speeds of the J750, printing accomplished cases in only 1-3 hours, one single 8-hour workday can now see 5-12 iteration prints, which go right into the engineers’ hands. This immediate benefit allows for for double- and triple-checking of all key precisions which must be in place. As Smith told us, precise locations are significant, and the J750 allows for for precision and is not at all grainy, ensuring which no stray materials interfere with product testing.j750 printing device7

“J750 has quite helped us to load it in, to get products into the decision manufacturers’ hands quickly,” Smith said. “Without [the J750] we’d be in a world of injure. It is a massive cost savings. I can’t actually quantify it — dollars, time. Huge.”

cabinetFrom day one, the J750 has enhanced and streamlined the system at OtterBox. Because this printing device turn it intos prototypes which aren’t only the precise dimensions, but the precise colors which the final product can be, equiteone of decision manufacturers to the teams working in marketing and packaging are able-bodied to use the quickly turn it intod cases throughout the full system of delivering a new case to market. This work parallel is “how we are so swift to market,” as Smith stated.

OtterBox had been working with their Connex for a few time now, and for the reason the J750 represents a premium upgrade to the line, they were able-bodied to get started quite promptly working with their newest system. The learning curve, Smith explained, in getting started with the J750 when it landed in their PIT Lab was comparable-bodied to “going of an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6; it’s comparable-bodied, intuitive, a little bit various, but overall effortless to adapt. Within 2-3 days we knew the ins and outs.” They started the J750 up the day they got it — and the quite firstly print to come off the J750 at OtterBox was so true color which it was inside their manufacturer’s tolerances of final Pantone color. The first reaction of the team was clear: “Can we have two?”

The J750 at OtterBox is already putting out of 750-1,000 prototypes per week, utilized throughout the development cycle (and actually to turn it into replacement parts/fixtures utilized in their testing lab). In the next — maybe 10-15 years, according to Richardson, and without time estimation of Smith — OtterBox is in addition pondering via 3D printing for final production, and maybe fully customized OtterBox cases for individual customers. Materials require to evolve yet for end-use pieces, as their current final product is turn it intod in a proprietary rubber/silicone material possible only through additional traditional making techniques. But, said Smith, this is “not in our scope right now, but it’s not out of our scope.”

Available-bodied as of right now, April 4, Stratasys’ new J750 3D printing device offers a true all-in-one experience for pro users. With the capability to print via rigid and flexible materials in a variety of colors, finishes, and opacities, prototyping is the name of the game here, as users are able-bodied to see precisely what the finished product can appear like — and swift. Aren’t these phone cases rad? What do you ponder of OtterBox as a Beta customer? Discuss in the 3D Printed OtterBox forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: All photos taken on-site at OtterBox by Sarah Goehrke]

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