Today’s commercial architects are facing the twin challenges of increased customer expectations and decreased budgets. Not all architects are aware, however, that security doors (including custom doors) are more creative and cost effective than ever before. It’s all thanks to some incredible improvements we’ve been making to our processes here at Dynamic Closures.
One of the cornerstones of our current design and testing process is the use of our Stratasys 3D printer to create prototypes for customized designs. Since purchasing the machine in 2012, it has enabled us to respond rapidly and creatively to new requirements from our market.
Our 3D Printer
3D printing has become a popular topic in the design world, but the printer we use is not like the $1,500 consumer versions.
Unlike those FDM (fused deposition modelling) printers, we use a much more sophisticated solution called PolyJet. PolyJet printers extrude a part in liquid form all at once, while FDM creates filaments that are laid on top of previous filaments. Once a PolyJet model is cured with UV light, you get an end product that has much finer resolution and is much more suitable for fit and function testing.
We use two different types of plastic for our prototypes:
- Vero plastics, which are rigid and perfect for simulating very solid parts.
- Durus, which is more flexible and suitable for simulating the behaviour of bendable plastic parts that are squeezed into place.
Simulating the behaviour of materials as well as size and shape help us create prototypes that tell us more about the suitability of the part for the final product.
Benefits to Our Customers
Using the 3D printer has transformed the quality of our work and increased our delivery speed, all at significant cost savings.
1. Faster Delivery Timelines on Custom Designs
Before we purchased the Stratasys, it would take about 6 – 8 weeks to design and produce a new prototype part for a custom security door. We would need to create a fully realized design, have the die machined, and then begin testing. Once the first part was finalized, we could move on to the next one, and so on.
3D printing reduces the creation of these parts to just 5 hours. We set the printer to run overnight, and in the morning the completed part just needs a few minutes of cleaning before it’s ready to use.
We’re also able to execute multiple design, testing, and manufacturing processes in parallel, instead of plodding through our former domino-like procedure.
This means overall timelines are significantly reduced, and we can also react faster to specification changes.
2. Significant Cost Savings and Reduced Waste
A 3D printed part costs about $20 to make, but before the printer we were spending literally thousands of dollars on metal prototypes for each final product. While those failed metal parts were recycled, the energy used to create them was wasted.
3. More Creative Solutions
With prototyping now faster and cheaper, we’re able to use a more iterative or Agile process. When an architect has unique requirements, we’re now able to test concept viability earlier on, and no longer have to have fully realized design parameters in order to confirm one critical aspect of a design.
Our process before was much more Waterfall-based, which discouraged the development of fresh approaches by making them prohibitively expensive and time consuming in many cases.
4. Better Communication and Collaboration
The ability to feel a part in your hands and see it at the correct scale is much more effective than even the best digital model on a screen, especially for non-technical team members. This helps both the collaboration within our internal team and improves communication with outside providers.
5. 100% Accuracy on Final Product
Accuracy of our final products has increased to effectively 100%. While we can’t guarantee your contractors have built the building to specifications, we can say that we deliver what we promise.
6. Better Door Performance Throughout its Lifespan
Aluminum and steel doors can be expected to last 20 years or even much more, but over time problems can creep in. Our new process helps eliminate these issues.
Because parts are subjected to wear and tear through daily use, the physical dimensions of individual parts can change through the years. Now we can simulate this wear through creating different sets of parts at minimum and maximum dimensions. We can test for fit and mobility at a full range of part dimensions, not just one.
We can ensure your new door will continue to operate smoothly even when it is decades old.
7. Improved Manufacturing Process
We don’t just use the 3D printer to create new parts for testing, although it’s worth it for that benefit alone. We also use the printer to create designs for new tools to streamline our own production process, for example, for machining a jig to hold a unique part under a drill.
Better. Faster. Cheaper.
When you have tight design and construction deadlines and want to deliver a pleasing space in a cost effective way, it’s good to know that there are professional providers with a fully realized process on your side.
Dynamic Closures offers not just an exceptional end product, but effective support for commercial architects and designers. From our EasySpec tool to our knowledgeable Customer Support team, you’ll get all the help you need and results you and your clients