Ultimaker 3 case study

Industry: Automotive
Application: Custom parts, prototyping
Benefits of 3D Printing:
- Reduced costs
- Rapid prototyping

As we've seen recently with Zortrax' re-engineered, 3D printed Triumph Daytona and Vins Motors' Duecinquanta motorbike, 3D printing has found a real use in the automotive industry. The ability to quickly prototype parts and review new physical iterations within hours is newfound for the industry, which typically relies on outsourced prototype production.

MNNTHBX is another company relishing the technology. They used to outsource the prototype production of small bore motorcycle parts. This was an extremely expensive and time-consuming process for them. Parts would be manufactured in weeks, not hours, and the cost per part ran anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 including labour and materials.

With the help of Ultimaker, they've now revolutionised their manufacturing process by moving it completely in-house. This has saved them thousands and freed up manpower.

The Switch to 3D printing

The MNNTHBX team switched from traditional methods of manufacturing and outsourcing to 3D printing. In doing so, they have reduced raw material costs by 90 per cent and saved thousands on design.

MNNTHBX bike

The team purchased an Ultimaker 2+ for their workshop. The Ultimaker 2+ is engineered to perform in an industrial environment. It lets you switch between 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm nozzles and has a geared feeder system that prevents materials skipping. It has a print resolution of 20 - 600 microns (0.02 - 0.6 mm) and a  223 × 223 × 205 mm build volume.

MNNTHBX chose Ultimaker because the brand is renowned for its reliable, consistent 3D printing experience. Other newer 3D printers in the range include the Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker S5.

3D Printing Small Bore Motorcycle Parts

After investing in their 3D printing, the team put it to use right away. They switched from aluminium to PLA filament to manufacture small bore prototypes, resulting in immediate material savings of 90 per cent.

MNNTHBX parts

The team also found the quality of 3D printed parts to be excellent. Parts were accurate to their CAD drawings and in cases exceeded the quality of milled parts. This convinced the team to stick with the technology.

MNNTHBX owner Greg Hatcher recognises the impact 3D printing has had on his workshop: "3D printing on Ultimaker mitigates risk, and opens the door to creating working concepts on extremely low investment. Long gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars running multiple prototypes through traditional CNC machining methods. When we take a design to the machine shop, we know before we start that it’s a fully functional design meeting our standards."

3D printed small bore

Here's a comparison between using an external CNC supplier and 3D printing in-house:

- 3D printing with the Ultimaker 2+ - $200 per part
- Outsourcing to an external CNC supplier - $1,500 to $2,500 per part
- Time per part with 3D printing - 12 hours
- Time per part with CNC outsourcing - 1 week
- Iterations per part with 3D printing - 1-5
- Iterations per part with CNC outsourcing - 5-10

As you can see, 3D printing saves the team time and money. It's a superior manufacturing method for them. They save on average $1,800 for each new part design. That's a saving of 90%.

When asked about return on investment, Greg gave an answer that's straight to the point: “The simple truth is that our return on investment was nearly instant. Our printer basically paid for itself the first time we saw a product through prototyping. Being that we prototype roughly 15 products annually, the costs savings become apparent.”

3D Printer: Ultimaker 2+

Material(s) used: PLA

This information was first published on the Ultimaker website.

We invite you to find out more about MNNTHBX on the official website. You can find more case studies like this at our automotive page. Interested in more Ultimaker stories? Check out our case study for 3D printing custom Lambretta parts.