Bringing flexibility to product development.
The team faced a complex task: gracefully merging a hard goods and soft goods product pipeline. This challenging project required a versatile array of manufacturing techniques and technologies, both traditional and additive. PolyJet technology provided the flexibility the ATAP team needed.
The versatility of PolyJet allows designers to jump in at any stage of the design process and create the prototypes they need, from single-color concept models to functional multi-material prototypes. Parts printed with literally flexible materials allow for further part realism. PolyJet printers like the J8™ Series combine excellent resolution with a wide range of material offerings and workflow capabilities. These printers are also Pantone™ Validated, offering thousands of unique shades and the capability to simulate surface textures from wood grain to leather.
Allen explains that PolyJet printers provide a good balance between speed, material performance, and functional fidelity – the last of which is a crucial step in the ATAP product development process. “We’re talking about things that didn’t exist before,” he says. The team needs to be able to closely replicate the multi-material assembly of the final product, and that process needs to happen fast. Typically, getting a multi-material prototype would take weeks, but with PolyJet, the ATAP team can hit print at the end of the day and have a high-fidelity model in engineers’ hands the next morning.
Stratasys has made that process even easier with the recent announcement of support for KeyShot 10 rendering software and the 3MF file format. By saving designs to 3MF, KeyShot produces files ready for printing, with accurate colors and displacement maps to three-dimensionally simulate textures. The Google ATAP team was a key beta customer.
“A lot of designers are using KeyShot. The closer the end part coming off the printer looks to the KeyShot rendering and the easier it is to go from the designer’s vision to the final print, the better,” Allen says.
The result is that designers get more questions answered faster. In other words, says Allen, you’re “de-risking” the process. “You’re buying design time to explore and optimize your solutions and get critical needs done so you can move into the next stages.”
Having that extra time is critical for groups like ATAP, which is focused on creating truly novel products that enhance tech experiences. The team looks to develop products that can be
integrated in multiple areas, with the versatility to help users in a range of different environments and experiences. That, explains Allen, is why Jacquard is so exciting.