3D Printing in Product Development

Discover the benefits of 3D printing with real-world cases from industry and research.

3D Printing in Product Development
3D Printing in Product Development - Benjamin Dollhofer

Benjamin Dollhofer
Development Engineer

“This case study has strengthened our conviction that we are
on the right track. It is the strength and stiffness of our
components that lift prototyping to a new level.
We use this added value results out of 3D Printing in Product Development for ourselves and offer it to our customers”


                                                                     Problem Description


New product development is a process of taking a product or service from conception to market. The steps in product development include drafting the concept, creating

the design, developing the product and defining the market. It is an iterative process
because of its nature and there are always several design loops before one reaches
the final design.

 Functional Models -> Pre-Series Prototypes -> Series Prototypes -> Series Design



These design iterations are usually custom-made and therefore expensive to

manufacture with conventional manufacturing methods due to high set-up and
programming costs of milling machines. These components are often supplied from
external companies or procured internally from the production department. This results
in high dependancy to external suppliers or internal production, which leads to high
costs and long waiting times.
In the case of our advanced extruder, the procurement of our advanced extruder`s
production parts would cost more than 400 Euros with an average delivery lead time of
10 to 20 working days from an external supplier.






The use of 3D printed components as functional prototypes have been limited because
of the lack of material availability. The commonly used materials in Material Extrusion
3D Printing technology, PLA and ABS, do not have the sufficient mechanical strength
and stiffness for higly demanding applications.



Our main goals for using FFF 3D printing in product development were:

1. Drastic minimization of costs and cycle times of design iterations.
Shorter cycle times can drastically reduce the development time and thus
time-to-market can be accelerated.

2. More agile development and faster response to design, function and
requirement changes.

3. More effective use of research resources (quick adjustments without long
waiting times).
The possibility of rapid prototyping and component adjustments makes the
experiment planning easier. For example, adapters can be printed at short
notice or produced components that do not fulfil the deisred function can
easily be re-printed.




In order to reach the specified goals in section 2, Apium`s product development team
has decided to use 3D printing with 30% Carbon Fiber Reinforced (CFR) PEEK as a
complementary solution to conventional manufacturing. The processing capabilities
of Apium P220 3D printer with 30% CFR PEEK enabled the team to print components
mainly designed for milling.


The team has chosen 30% CFR PEEK because of its 3 main properties:

1. Stiffness
2. Abrasion resistance
3. Temperature Resistance


                                      Result & Conclusion


3D Printing in Product Development has shown: The  project of advanced extruder had 4 design iterations.
The development team has focused on the basic functions of the product during
iteration 1 and 2, where the most frequent and more serious design changes happened.
Apart from standard and purchased parts, all components have been 3D printed with
In iteration 3, components were already optimized for milling, however the team has
3D printed them at this stage. The usage of 30% CFR PEEK at this stage was very critical,
because the components are originally designed as metal components. Achieving the
expected functionalities would not be possible with other commonly used thermoplastics
in 3D printing. However, the stiffness, abrasion resistance and temperature resistance of
Apium CFR PEEK parts have conformed to required functionality.






In iteration 4, the final prototypes have been ordered from external production partner,
who used milling for the production.The parts 3D printed in iteration 3 and the parts milled in iteration 4 performed identically, even after longtime service time (~ 1,5 years). The only difference observed was the surface.
As a final step, the team has compared the time and costs for the same development
process. As shown in the figure 1, by implementing the use of 3D printing in product
development, 54% of manufacturing costs and 68% of waiting time could be saved in
direct comparison to traditional development. Furthermore, it was possible to react much
faster to changes in requirements and functions. By using high performance polymers
(30% CFR PEEK), the required performance of the prototypes could be achieved, which
could be measured in direct comparison with the milled series components.

3D Printing in Product Development - Cost Comparision

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