BURLINGTON, Mass. -- The Timberland Company (www.timberland.com) is using 3D printing technology from Z Corporation (www.zcorp.com) to help solidify its position as the vanguard of outdoor-inspired footwear.
Quickly and easily creating its own physical foot and shoe prototypes has helped Timberland reduce their development time by 33 percent and its last(1) production time by 92 percent, according to Toby Ringdahl, CAD manager in the company's global footwear product development division.
Increasingly prevalent in iterative product development, 3D printers produce tangible physical models from computer-aided design files much as document printers produce business letters from word-processing files. Timberland's ZPrinter 650 produces multicolor 3D models, which are used in refining design concepts.
"We used to hire an artisan or service provider to make our models, and it typically took two weeks to receive the finished goods," said Ringdahl. "Now we simply press 'print,' remove our models from the ZPrinter, and continue to move our product concepts to market. Every time we print, we shorten the development cycle and help get new styles to consumers while they're hot. That's typically six months earlier than if we still outsourced our models, and at a fraction of the cost."
In addition to shortening the development cycle, ZPrinting has:
- Paid for itself quickly by reducing the cost of each model by a factor of ten ($100 in material versus $1,000 spent on a contractor);
- Reduced Timberland's mold scrap volume 20 percent by improving communication internally and with manufacturing partners;
- Cut travel costs to Asia by 10 percent annually, also a result of improved design communication;
- Enabled more productive design reviews earlier in development cycles, when a course correction is least expensive; and
- Bolstered sales by improving designs and putting realistic prototypes in the hands of sales representatives and prospects.
Timberland invested in the ZPrinter 650 after a formal financial impact analysis that proved ZPrinting is more affordable than comparable technologies. According to Ringdahl, it has distinct advantages in low printer price, software, consumable materials and throughput.
ZPrinters, for example, use inkjet print heads replaceable from the shelf of any office supply store. ZPrinter consumable materials cost a fraction of competitors', and no material is wasted printing disposable structures to support models inside the build chamber, as with other prototyping systems. Since ZPrinting requires no supports, designs can easily be stacked and "nested" in the ZPrinter build chamber for sufficient throughput to serve the entire engineering team. ZPrinters produce no hazardous waste and require no special ventilation or work stands. Unmatched automation significantly reduces printer touch time.
The ZPrinter 650 delivers the industry's biggest models with the highest-quality color and finest resolution. With the largest build volume of any 3D printer, it enables users to print very large multicolor models in hours or to make many smaller models at once. Superior size and color come with more than double the resolution of other devices: 600 x 540 dpi. The ZPrinter 650 combines these qualities with Z Corporation's documented speed, automation and office compatibility.
"Timberland is a great example of how 3D printing can streamline and improve the entire development process from concept through manufacturing," said Z Corporation Vice President of Global Sales and Services Ed DeArias. "With ready access to affordable prototypes, companies can improve quality, shorten cycles, contain costs and improve communication throughout the company. Other manufacturers are discovering these benefits every day."
About Z Corporation
Z Corporation makes products that enable users to capture, edit, and print 3D data with unprecedented speed, ease, versatility and affordability. These products include the world's fastest high-definition 3D printers -- machines that produce physical 3D models from digital data in multiple colors -- and uniquely portable 3D scanners -- handheld machines that digitize 3D surfaces in real time. Z Corp. technology is enabling a wide range of applications in manufacturing, architecture, civil engineering, reverse engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), medicine and entertainment. For the latest news and information from Z Corp., visit www.zcorp.com.