3D printing high value parts
Another great example of how desktop 3D printers are being used in engineering is the case of Snow Business, a wolrd leader of in snow and winter effects. The company develops snow machines that are used in the film and TV industry as well as on Christmas fairs and other live events. They use their Ultimaker 3D printers for prototyping, functional testing, and creating final parts for the snow machines. In-house 3D printing significantly speeds up their iterative design process and yields considerable cost savings along the way.
The company works with many large production companies. The truth is chances are the snow you see in a movie was made from Snow Business and their past productions include 007: James Bond, Kingsmen, Bridget Jone's Diary and many more. Paul Denney is Head of Research at Snow Business and is responsible for designing the falling snow machines. Most of the focus of R&D goes out to the machine's nozzle, which is where the machine mixes air with fluid to create the snow effect.
The nozzles of their machines have a fairly complex air and fluid geometry, which makes it extremelly difficult to cast them. Therefore, the only way to create new nozzles is by 3D printing according to Paul Denny who is Head of Research at Snow Business. These new nozzles are developed using an iterative process of printing, test fitting, adjusting, and repeat which can take many revisions before arriving at a design that matches the high-quality standards the company set.
Paul got started with an Ultimaker 2+ for prototyping and producing the final new nozzles for their snow machines. Compared to outsourcing, he can now print new parts in a matter of hours in-house at a very low cost. These Ultimaker desktop 3D printers turned out to be a much morse cost and time effective solution for the company in the long run. Paul estimates the first printer they bought for the company effectively paid for itself within just 2 weeks.