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Top 3 Consumer Goods / Manufacturing

3D Printer Case Studies

How leading manufacturing companies integrated Z Corporation
3D Printing to increase productivity, reduce costs and remain



Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................ 3
Cisco Uses 3D Printing Technology to Help Uphold Scandinavian Design Tradition ................................ 4
ZPrinting Helps Shoemaker Clarks Embark on New Era of Innovation ........................................................ 7
3D Printing is Heartbeat of Symmons Industries Design Studio Live Virtual Design Studio ............... 10

Z Corporations Top 3 Consumer Goods/Manufacturing 3D Printer Case Studies
Its a very competitive and fierce business environment out there. Manufacturing companies of all sizes are
struggling to survive by cutting costs, improving processes and re-examining market strategies.
Investing in new technology may seem like an early candidate to be cut from the budget, but often, its the
capital equipment purchase that really makes an impact on the bottom line.
Weve handpicked 3 Z Corporation case studies that highlight how and why leading consumer goods
manufacturers chose to invest in 3D printing and demonstrably increased productivity, reduced costs and
gained a competitive advantage.
In these case studies youll get practical advice and proven results from a consumer electronics provider of
home networking solutions, a well-known UK-based footwear manufacturer, a commercial and residential
bathroom plumbing products company.
As you read, we hope youll be able to take their success and apply it to your own design and engineering

Cisco Uses 3D Printing Technology to Help Uphold Scandinavian Design Tradition

This is the story of how professional designers combined time-honored aesthetic principles with 3D printing
technology to produce some of the worlds most elegant consumer electronic equipment.
Devices like wireless routers, the media hub, and the wireless home audio system create what the Cisco
Consumer Business Group calls the connected life, a life thats more personal, more social, and more visual.
Constant network connectivity is a given, and the focus is on the content the music, video, Web pages, and
work materials coursing through the home, office, or classroom.
As these devices further infiltrate the home, networking gear becomes more central to our lives, moving from
the computer room to the living space. Thus, like a stainless steel refrigerator, electronics must be
aesthetically pleasing with sleeker, less boxy lines, while increasing connectivity, reliability, and intuitive
operation. Thus, making functional objects both simple and beautiful is the challenge Cisco engineers face
every day.

Upholding Traditional Design Standards in the Fast-growing Consumer Electronics World

Since design excellence is paramount for the Cisco Consumer Business Group, the company recently
established a European Design Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here the company continues the venerable
tradition of Scandinavian design functional, minimal, and affordable without compromising design

Scandinavian design tradition requires the engineer to hold a prototype of his or her creation in their hands,
sense the proportions, heed what the object has to tell them, and ensure that the form ultimately follows the
function. The artisan then modifies the design, creates another prototype, and examines the new design just
like the first.
The problem is that traditional handcrafted prototypes are time-consuming and expensive to create. Most
automated rapid prototyping technologies are just as costly and must be outsourced, adding time and
inconvenience to the process. And though many designers rely on 2D screen images alone, they are simply
insufficient to create the quality that the Cisco Consumer Business Group demands. The challenge, then, is
upholding the highest aesthetic standards while meeting deadlines in the highly competitive consumer
electronics business, where time to market is critical.

Investing in 3D Printing Technology from Z Corporation

Z Corporations 3D printing technology helps Cisco quickly and inexpensively create the physical models it
needs. A 3D printer creates physical objects from 3D computer-aided design data much as a 2D printer creates
documents from word-processing text.
3D printing gave the Cisco Consumer Business Group a way to apply its exacting design standards in a way that
keeps the development cycle humming, ensuring that products get to market on schedule. ZPrinting pumps out
prototypes in hours instead of weeks and for one fifth the cost.
Proportions and ergonomics are paramount, yet too many designers rely on computer screens alone as their
design medium, says Eskild Hansen, Head of Ciscos European Design Centre. For our strategic design
approach, we depend on physical prototypes and the ZPrinter 450 for each design review, both locally and
globally in concert with our design partners in the United States. ZPrinting is an easy and effective way to
conduct a productive global design review.

Lots of Models for Productive Design Reviews

Cisco uses the ZPrinter 450 to create 10 models per week, on average, for design review. Models are printed
directly from 3D CAD files submitted by Cisco designers around the world.
Designers pass around the resulting models, mark them up with pencil, revise designs in the software, print
out new models, and repeat the cycle as necessary. The hands on step is an absolute must, according to
Hansen, who selected Z Corporations technology because of confidence in the brand and his experience using
it in other settings. We get prototypes quickly, we refine them quickly, we create new ones, and we derive our
elite designs, says Hansen.
Z Corporation is the only company that makes a 3D printer capable of simultaneously printing in multiple
colors. Color dramatically communicates the proposed look, feel and style of engineering product designs and
develops architectural concepts, landscapes, entertainment figures, and medical information.
Its inspiring to see what my team can do with what the world has always received as a basic black box, says
Hansen. Designs like these dont just emerge from a computer screen. Because design is very important, 3D
printing is an important element of our product strategy.

ZPrinting Helps Shoemaker Clarks Embark on New Era of Innovation

The shoe is an ancient artifact, at least 9,000 years old. Not surprisingly, the industry around it is bound in
tradition, partly because its hard to automate what is essentially a craft. Clarks, however, has bucked tradition
by creating digital shoe prototypes, reaping huge productivity gains and positioning itself for an industry

Gain a Competitive Advantage

The traditional approach to designing shoes, which lives on at many manufacturers today, begins with hand
sketches on paper. Teams review and revise the drawings several times over until product managers approve
the concept. During this time, upper materials are sourced before the designs go to a shoe factory, which in
most cases will be overseas. The factory will manufacture the samples and return them in two or three weeks.
Designers and product managers reconvene to review the samples, inevitably requesting modifications,
ordering more samples, and repeating the cycle until theyre satisfied.
If this sounds time-consuming (and expensive) in an industry of rapidly shifting tastes, thats because it is.

Full Automation

To speed things up and cut costs, Clarks has thoroughly modernized this process. Building on years of
investment in process and people, the company has now added digital shoe design and automated prototyping
to its existing digital outsole and last design (lasts are the foot models from which shoes are made) to create a
world-leading 3D conceptual development process. Our level of engineering detail, combined with 185 years
of manufacturing heritage, lets us take the whole process much further, says Clarks Digital Development
Manager, Ross Authers.
After an initial paper sketch, designs are quickly moved to state-of-the-art 3D computer-aided design (CAD)
software, making them simple to modify on the fly. When product managers are happy with an on-screen
concept, they ask for a physical prototype.
Now, instead of halting the review process for up to three weeks, a Clarks digital engineer simply clicks print
and produces a prototype in the head office using Z Corporation 3D printing technology. (3D printing converts
three-dimensional data into a physical model much as a document printer turns a word-processing file into a
business letter.)

Time/Money Savings and Improved Quality

Rather than wait two to three weeks for a costly prototype to arrive, we now have a full, multicolor prototype in
our hands in a day, says Authers. We save a lot of time and money both in production and shipping. This
more efficient process also enhances the quality of the final shoe, which the consumer receives much earlier in
the fashion life cycle.
A crucial part of the design review is holding the actual physical 3D printed model in your hands. Although you
can rotate a 3D computer model virtually on the screen, its nothing like scrutinizing the physical model.
When you rotate a model on screen, youre doing it in an artificial way from a single, fixed point of reference,
says Authers. You miss the subtle visual changes that occur as real light glances off different parts of the
model at different angles, and as your hand moves naturally. When youre holding a shoe model in your hand,

your eyes are constantly moving, and the shoe seems to almost change shape as you turn it. This matters
because, as youll notice, theres not a single straight line on a shoe. You need to see it in three full
In the UK, Clarks prints one or two models per day, not including the wildly popular miniature shoe models for
marketing and sales. And while it used to take months to go from concept to approved product, Clarks new
automation strategy can be used to shrink that cycle time to weeks ideal when the pressure is truly on. Once
a product is approved it can be reprinted in other locations around the world, adding further time and cost
With sophisticated engineered lasts, digital shoe models and the technology that brings everything together
3D printing were evolving from the best shoemakers in the world into the best innovators in the world, says
Authers. We can respond to the market faster than ever, and faster than our competitors, allowing us time to
experiment with designs we would not normally achieve. These advantages are helping us expand our business
into new market segments and territories. Were on the verge of a revolution of efficiency and approaching the
reality of fully engineered shoes. Although we have 185 years in a 9,000-year-old industry, it feels like a new

3D Printing is Heartbeat of Symmons Industries Design Studio Live Virtual Design

Bathrooms matter in the design world. The room itself is a canvas for architects and interior designers to
showcase their talents in a way that helps set a property apart from the pack. More fundamentally though, the
bathroom experience is a critical factor in the discriminating consumers willingness to spend and select one
property over another.
For these reasons, the humble bathroom fittings the faucet, the showerhead, the towel rack and even the
doorknob are far too important to overlook when building or remodeling hotels, luxury condos and high-end
homes. Property owners are increasingly demanding one-of-a-kind fittings to deliver a unique experience.
Symmons Industries, 70-year-old manufacturer of commercial and residential plumbing products, has long
served this market with custom design and manufacturing services. The company broke new ground with the
launch of a first-of-its-kind virtual design studio for architects, designers and property owners, called Design
Studio Live (
Design Studio Live is a Web-based program that allows users to create their own products and receive color 3D
physical concepts of their designs within four days, metal prototypes in approximately 15 days, and delivered
product for their property in as little as 16 weeks. With the help of this innovative new tool, architects and
designers can create unique ideas that translate into exclusive fittings for their projects right from their desks.
Users can begin by digitally paging through a virtual catalog of ready-made designs, dragging them to a virtual
light box, and modifying them with Google SketchUp, Adobe Photoshop, SolidWorks, or any other 3D CAD
Symmons is the only manufacturer offering fully customized plumbing fittings, and Design Studio Live makes
it easier than ever for a designer to complete their bath design with products tailored for each project, says
Eric Spear, Symmons director of custom services. Weve built a process in which we can execute a custom
design in the time it takes to flip through a catalog.
Symmons design consultants are available for program guidance or design advice. However, users are
encouraged to experiment as much as theyd like because the tool is designed to encourage creativity. The
Design Studio program is also a tool for tracking and managing the progress of a project.


Fast-turnaround Concept Prototypes
Critical to the Design Studio Live formula is the ability to quickly and affordably churn out 3D physical models
at high volumes. With this demand, handcrafting models was out of the question due to the time and labor
involved. For Symmons, a 3D printer was the answer to creating a great custom service for its customers. A 3D
printer is an output device for 3D data in the same way that a 2D printer is an output device for the words and
pictures on a computer screen. The primary difference is that a 3D printer produces 3D models and prototypes
in composite material.
Long before Design Studio Live was conceived, Symmons owned a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer.
Design consultants used the printer, but only intermittently because the wait for a part to be ready was lengthy.
A single faucet took 15 hours to print, says Spear.


A local Z Corporation reseller told Symmons it could fix the turnaround problem with a printer from
Z Corporation, maker of the worlds fastest 3D printers and the only ones able to print objects in multiple
colors. Symmons designers said, Prove it.
They did just that; instead of taking 15 hours to print a single faucet, Z Corporations full-color 3D printer
printed 12 models in 3.5 hours at half the price of the single model produced by the FDM machine. Put another
way, the ZPrinter could produce 48 ZPrint models in the time it took the FDM machine to print one.
Convinced, Symmons purchased the 3D printer to create 3D physical models on demand, giving Symmons the
final piece of the puzzle it required to realize the vision of Design Studio Live.


A Thriving Design Studio Live

The ZPrinter is turning out to be the driving force behind Design Studio Live.
The design process itself is exciting, but there comes a point when its really helpful to see a tangible,
physical example of it, says Spear. By ZPrinting 3D models, designers can stop looking at their screens and
see what the part really looks like in context and feels like in their hands.
ZPrints also strengthen the relationship between an architect and a property owner. Architects can slide a set
of ZPrints across the table perhaps faucets of different sizes and shapes along with a red pencil, says
Spear. The property owner gets a rare opportunity to handle the models and mark them up. The architect
comes back with revised models a couple of days later, and the owner is blown away by the architects
3D printing has helped enable Symmons, venerated for the superior workmanship of its internal plumbing
parts, to show its design capabilities. For example, the Mandarin Oriental, New York wanted a distinctive look
and feel for its bathrooms, and their design firm turned to Symmons to help create the details of the design.
The bath design called for a shower system that incorporated fittings with a ceiling-mount drench showerhead
and a Roman tub filler that was both stylish and simple to operate. Symmons developed custom concepts for
its client with an elegantly simple, single control for on/off, hot/cold operation, a feature that helped to
overcome the language barrier many international guests experience. ZPrints helped Symmons communicate a
range of options to the client, which enabled the team to quickly close on a final solution. It was the same story
at a Miami hotel where ZPrints helped Symmons refine the design of a vertical showerhead surrounded by
chandeliers. Other satisfied Symmons clients include the Wynn Resorts, Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton, to
name a few.
The ZPrinter was running at full tilt five days a week, 20 models a run, according to Spears. In the first four
months of use, Symmons produced 4,000 ZPrints for a wide range of applications. Most were for client
projects, but models also went to tradeshows, lunch and learn seminars with designers and architects, and
to Symmons industrial designers. You can push the print button during morning coffee break and be passing
around prototypes at lunch. Z Corporation is enabling the kind of speed and part quality that is indispensable
for Design Studio Live and all of our design work here, commented Spear.


The Spectrum Z510 and its unique color capabilities have yielded other surprising benefits. They help Symmons
stretch design concepts and prototypes beyond conventional stainless steel, using color to accurately
represent the popular finish of Onyx. Color ZPrints also make great promotional handouts for instance, a
brightly colored faucet model with an architects name on it. Symmons even brings its ZPrinter to tradeshows
and ZPrints nonstop, making its booth a popular stop for designers and architects witnessing the possibilities
of both Symmons designs and instant prototypes.
Whether at tradeshows or in Design Studio Live, 3D color printing enhances Symmons business and brand by
helping the company focus as much on the aesthetic considerations as the internals. The company is now able
to prove that it can make the most beautiful facades or better yet, help customers make them.
Its a great experience to be the first in market to do this, says Spear. Our unique ability to host a full-service
virtual design studio with 3D printing capabilities, and do it so painlessly, is a real differentiator and a powerful
one that keeps us in top of mind to our clients. Z Corporations unique speed, color and affordability make this


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