Australian manufacturer Rotacaster has accelerated innovation and speed-to-market with a Markforged 3D printer supported by Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia (Konica Minolta Australia).
Located in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Rotacaster designs, develops, manufactures, and exports a special type of wheel, known as the omni wheel and associated products.
Although the company had been using 3D printing for a number of years, it needed a new solution for better functional testing and production of early-stage end-use parts. For this, Rotacaster invested in a Markforged Mark Two, a cost-effective, powerful, professional, continuous, carbon fibre 3D printer for aluminium-strength parts, supplied and supported by Konica Minolta.
Peter McKinnon, managing director, Rotacaster, said, “Rotacaster chose the Mark Two because of its ability to produce parts that could be tested from a functional perspective, for the parts’ strength and robustness, as well as its ability to let us produce short-run production parts that can stand up to the rigour of real-life use.”
Rotacaster is using Mark Two for rapid prototyping, design iterations, functional testing, and initial phase production.
Peter McKinnon said, “The Mark Two has really let Rotacaster get products to market faster and iterate design easily before contemplating high-volume tooling, which is expensive and resource-intensive.
“Most recently, it launched its Omni-Sense cane tip for the vision-impaired, which introduces omni-wheel technology to white canes. Rotacaster printed the mount component to enable use of its wheels with a number of cane types. Printing with the Markforged let Rotacaster iterate the design based on feedback during the field trials and expedite the product to market.
“Rotacaster expects that a lot of its components will follow this route, with 3D printing becoming a key element in its production capability. It gives Rotacaster the ability to produce parts that we never would have been able to even contemplate before.”
Matthew Hunter, innovation product marketing manager, Konica Minolta, said, “A key trend in manufacturing is the requirement for shorter product runs with faster turnaround. When used to manufacture end-use parts, 3D printing offers speed and versatility, which is now being realised by Rotacaster through the Mark Two.”
With supply chains in question and local organisations reluctant to continue to rely on overseas supply, there is a real opportunity for local manufacturers to step up.
Peter McKinnon said, “Locally, there are not a lot of tool makers and, even then, they often send their tooling work overseas. This is no longer necessary, with 3D printing providing a viable option for getting products up and running quickly without substantial tooling costs upfront. 3D printing will play a key role in helping manufacturers get products to market without being subject to supply chains that may not be as dependable as they once were.”
Local support was also key to the purchasing decision for Rotacaster. With the Mark Two supplied and supported by Konica Minolta, Rotacaster was assured that it would have access to local expertise.
Peter McKinnon said, “With Konica Minolta taking on the Mark Two, the investment was a much safer investment because we knew we had local support should we need it.”
Matthew Hunter said, “3D printing can help offset supply chain risk putting control back in the hands of manufacturers and assisting them in getting their innovations into market faster, increasing their competitiveness.”
About Konica Minolta Australia
Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia Pty Ltd is a market-leading provider of trusted technology solutions for enterprise, government, small business, education and manufacturing.
Konica Minolta Australia helps Australian organisations keep pace with the needs of the changing workplace to start leveraging the technology of tomorrow today.
Through innovation and investment in building a portfolio of technology solutions that will help organisations shape their future workplace, Konica Minolta Australia has key partnerships that extend its offering into future products such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML); robotics; robotic process automation (RPA); data analytics; and 3D, now.
Part of the future workplace includes creating businesses, and working with businesses, that are responsible for their impact on and contribution to employees, key stakeholders and the wider community. Konica Minolta Australia actively promotes and innovates in these areas through gender equality, ethical supply chain and climate change action strategies.
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