Mishimoto Automotive, an aftermarket performance auto parts supplier, is using 3D printing technology from MakerBot to accelerate its product development time by quickly producing prototype parts.
Sarah Albright, Mishimoto senior public relations coordinator, provided more details about the how the company uses the technology.
Explain how the company is using 3D printing.
We do all the prototyping here, so engineers come up with a design and the 3D printer will make it, and that allows us to put the products in the car to test it to see if it will work before we move any further. That's the main application. Because the MakerBot printers are so fast, they really help with our speed to market. We save weeks from that process, and it's cheaper, too.
What are some of the other key benefits?
Speed to market is the biggest. We also work with a lot of our drivers personally, so for example, we'll have a collaborative design and the drivers can come in to our facility and take a look at the design prototype. If they love it we can go straight to production, or if they want to tweak something, we can do it right then and there and send them the new prototype. We also have an engineering blog, and our production team members can display a prototype on the blog, outline our goals, and update our progress. We can show the progression of where we started all the way to the final product.
What are some of the key challenges Mishimoto faces in the performance parts market?
Because there are so many modifications people can make to their cars, we have to put a lot of thought into anticipating what modifications they will want to have on new models first. We listen to a lot of customer feedback and take that into consideration, which is a leg up we have over our competition. We're very active in online forums, which gives us a competitive advantage.
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