Fender Musical Instruments Corporation designs and manufactures stringed instruments and amplifiers, such as solid-body electric guitars, including the Stratocaster and the Telecaster.
While engineers focus on how instruments should sound, a group of industrial designers at Fender work on how they will look. Design is an extremely important element of Fender’s business. The company maintains its own in-house design center, complete with a model shop to explore new concepts, create designs, prototype and test.
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. It often took one to two weeks to get a “rapid” prototype back, a time lapse that really slowed down projects. Fender’s volume had grown to a point where the company needed to bring rapid prototyping technology in-house. After factoring in the cost of the equipment and materials as well as staff time, it was concluded that Fender could significantly reduce costs by creatign their prototypes in-house.
Ultimately, Fender chose Objet’s Eden350V 3D Printer. Built on the Objet Eden platform, this machine delivers the market’s most productive, flexible and high quality way to compress the product design-to-manufacturing cycle. PolyJet Photopolymer jetting technology found in the Eden350V enables horizontal layers of just 16-microns (0.0006»), producing prototypes with exceptionally fine details and ultra-thin walls down to 0.1 to 0.3mm thick.
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. Fender now uses its 3D printer to create parts, mockups and prototypes for almost every product.
The Objet Eden350V also has helped Fender avoid rework and retooling. One notable example was a light-up front panel for an amp.
You can view the entire Fender Case Study by downloading the PDF from the CATI website.
Computer Aided Technology, Inc.