3D rapid prototyping has been a part of Fender’s design process for years, and until recently the company outsourced this work to service bureaus. However, Greene (senior industrial designer for Fender) and his team were frustrated by the time and expense of outsourcing. It often took one to two weeks to get a “rapid” prototype back, a time lapse that really slowed down projects. By late 2007, Fender’s volume had grown to a point where Greene recommended that the company bring rapid prototyping technology in house.  (C. Gillman, graphicdisplayworld.com)

“I calculated the cost of outsourcing prototypes for one year and compared it with the cost of bringing the function in-house. Even after factoring in the cost of the equipment and materials as well as staff time, I still concluded that we could significantly reduce our costs by doing it ourselves,” explains Greene.

Greene consulted with the service bureaus Fender had used for suggestions on 3D printer vendors. The most common recommendation by far was Objet. Greene ultimately chose Objet’s Eden350V 3D Printer. Built on Objet’s advanced Eden platform, this machine delivers the market’s most productive, flexible and high quality way to compress the product design-to-manufacturing cycle. The Objet Eden350V is designed to provide high quality 3D models quickly and conveniently throughout the CAD/CAM process. With a full 350 x 350 x 200mm build size, it offers the flexibility to produce a single large model or multiple smaller models in one build.

Now, the Fender design team can prototype a part within hours versus weeks – so they are doing a lot more of it. “We print anything from small guitar parts and amp knobs up to amp chassis and new guitar body designs,” he says. “We do a lot of overnight printing. We set the printer before we leave, and when we get back in the morning, the parts are ready. When we’re cranking on a project, getting those prototypes back quickly really, keeps the momentum going. When we outsource and have to wait a week or two for a prototype, it can cause us to lose our steam.”

Watch the video below showcasing a Fender Strat and Tele developed through 3-D printing!

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