Cost-effective, Customized Functional Prototypes

March 15th, 2018
Eljay Bernabe

As 3D printing has continuously developed in terms of technology and applications, many industries benefiting greatly. Such is the case for a company called ABB Robotics. ABB Robotics is a leading supplier of industrial robots and robot software, equipment and complete application solutions. With 3D printing, ABB Robotics has developed the ability to minimize potential risks during development processes.

How exactly are they minimizing risk? With 3D printing, the ability to continuously prototype and have a viable solution for testing allows ABB Robotics to enhance and/or perfect a design before moving on to later stages. By doing so, an increase in testing increases the opportunity to negate design flaws or failures. Having a design that is free of flaws or failures will serve many positives when moving on to later stages of the design process. This bodes well especially when the time comes to utilize more expensive tools, parts, or machinery.

Challenge and Solution

Challenge- Meet YuMi. YuMi is an industrial robot that was designed to grab, pick and place parts, and perform procedural insertions. Depending on the part, YuMi uses different finger shapes that require multiple prototypes to perfect. Long before design and manufacturing became a dual in-house process, product design and manufacturing were two separate process in two separate places. Design would take place in-house and manufacturing would be outsourced to a 3rd party specialist. This process was long, resulted in longer wait times, and high costs, especially for ABB Robotics.

Solution - Once ABB Robotics began to incorporate 3D printing into their everyday workflow, engineering processes took between four and sixteen hours per four prototypes. This brought wait times and average costs down substantially. 3D printing improved productivity, workflow, and allowed ABB Robotics to be more responsive with their customers.

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