A new concept, 3D printing is making inroads in a number of manufacturing areas. U.S.-based pulley system manufacturer Concept One has jumped on the bandwagon with their recent announcement that they have begun using 3D printing to assist them in the process of manufacturing new parts for their pulley systems.
One of the main reasons companies use 3D printing is the ease with which they can design and then produce prototype parts, as well as the significant time and cost savings that the method delivers. Instead of having to take a CAD drawing to a CNC mill or water jet machine, manufacturers can quickly print out a copy of their new design for test and fitment purposes. Concept One is using the process to allow them to more quickly and inexpensively test the functionality and dimensions of newly-designed products before sending that product off for full-scale production.
Kevin and Randy Redd are longtime automotive restorers, and they founded Concept One because of the frustration that they and many auto restorers feel when getting poorly-designed products that don’t fit properly. The idea of Concept One came about in 2001 when they introduced their first product, the Concept One Pulley System, the first complete pulley system available on the market. This was a new concept in the automotive aftermarket. Thanks to Randy and Kevin, the concept is now commonplace.
According to Randy Redd, “Through 3D printing, we can physically test fit components beyond what you can see on a computer screen. While 3D models on a computer screen are great, when checking for clearances and even aesthetics, a three-dimensional printed part can help you see things you otherwise may not notice. We have found that the physical 3D printed parts can often erase any doubt as to whether a part will fit in a certain application or not.”
The use of 3D printing is only going to increase in the future. Not only are we going to see more and more companies using it for prototyping experimental and developmental parts, we’re going to see it become mainstream to the point where many of the parts we buy are going to be 3D printed instead of being produced in a machine shop or foundry.