Thursday, 24 October 2013, 12:39 pm
24 October 2013
Wintec 3D printer – a NZ-first technology revolutionises manufacturing processes
Hamilton, New Zealand – Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) has acquired New Zealand’s first ultra high definition, mass production, liquid resin 3D printer – known as the 3D Systems Projet 6000MP.
Wintec’s Research Programmes Manager, Dr Henk Roodt, said through use of the 3D printer his industrial design team is “disrupting” his customers’ design processes …but in a good way.
“Our unique three-D printer is what we call, a disruptive technology. Through its use, we are working with companies to radically change, for the better, the way they think about and perform industrial design.
“For instance, by using this 3D printer a company no longer designs individual components of a part, produces each small component and then assembles it. Instead, we design and print the entire part all at once – internal working components and all,” said Dr Roodt.
Although 3D printing is not new, he said Wintec’s Projet 6000MP is unique to New Zealand.
“First, Wintec’s liquid resin printer prints at room temperature using high-strength, high temperature resins. This means we can print parts that can be tested in hot spaces, such as car or aircraft applications. In fact, the resin is so robust the printed part can be used in a finished product.
“And the second characteristic that makes our printer unique is that it’s fast. In less than 24 hours we can take a customers’ prototype drawing, translate it into a computer model, print it and deliver it into their hands,” said Dr Roodt.
Award-winning company, Stainless Design, is Wintec’s first customer to gain access to the printer and take a prototype design through to commercialisation. Wintec’s industrial design team helped Stainless Design develop a component for a nano brewing machine the company manufactured for a beer brewery.
Company director, John Cook, said access to Wintec’s 3D printer “revolutionised” the company’s previous design processes by integrating 3D prototype drawing capabilities with a state-of-the-art manufacturing process.
It also saved the company thousands of dollars and up to six weeks in manufacturing time.
“There was one part on the nano brewing machine where we hadn’t completely resolved the final design with our client. Working with Wintec, we were able to create a 3D printed model to send to the customer and get their final approval for manufacture.
“An added benefit was the robust resin the part was printed from meant, if required, that exact printed part was suitable for use in the finished product,” John Cook said.
Dr Roodt said they are looking forward to working with more New Zealand and overseas manufacturers who would benefit from access to Wintec’s industrial design expertise and the unique properties of its new 3D printer.
“It is not about coming up with new technologies ourselves, rather, we are about integrating this disruptive technology into our customers’ existing designs and processes, all to help them make radical, positive changes that give them huge competitive advantages. It’s exciting stuff!”
Dr Henk Roodt is a scientist and engineer with more than 25 years’ experience in high technology environments. Prior to immigrating to New Zealand, he supported the South African establishment of the country’s space exploration capacity and managed an extensive department of defence (DoD) applied research contract.