Embracing 3D printing in the foundry industry
Thomas Dudley Ltd, the market-leading bathroom products and iron castings manufacturer has been manufacturing in the West Midlands since 1920. The Thomas Dudley Group also consists of the following divisions including: Waterfit Ltd, Masefield-Beta Ltd, McDonald Diecasting Ltd, CronexRabo Ltd & Rugby Plastics Ltd.
Thomas Dudley were traditionally outsourcing all of their rapid prototyping requirements to bureau’s. This was working for them however it was a very time consuming and costly process. They decided they wanted to bring it in-house, providing them with more control over the situation and help drive their products to market faster.
Thomas Dudley were after a 3D Printer that was able to print in multiple materials including an ABS and rubber equivalent for seals. Another important factor to consider was the requirement to print in a clear transparent material, due to a numerous amount of fluid testing through tubes. After thorough research, Thomas Dudley approached Tri-Tech 3D. Tri-Tech offered Thomas Dudley a Stratasys Connex 260 to trial and test, which was capable of all the requirements that they asked for. Accuracy was imperative as the models which were being printed needed to ensure that the dimensions were precise for fit, form and functionality. Two weeks later after utilising the printer, Thomas Dudley decided to purchase the printer off Tri-Tech. They realised the key benefits that it could offer across the whole Group, in particular it supported their plastics, foundry and zinc divisions by streamlining the product development and time constraints.
After using the Connex 260 in the factory, we realized the raft of benefits the technology could offer the whole Group and since purchasing have seen a positive difference in many aspects. We are now able to design and 3D print prototypes while customers are on-site, whereas previously the process would have taken weeks.
Simon Mason | Design Manager
By having the 3D Printer in-house, it has enabled Thomas Dudley to prototype faster and more efficiently. Customers can approach Thomas Dudley with a specific design and with this printing facility, components can be prototyped within 24-hours of discussing the project. Thomas Dudley can now offer this service in comparison to external manufacturers, which could take up to two weeks to commence. Thomas Dudley competes against Global manufacturers, many of whom exploit international supply chains. Thomas Dudley competes by being able to response rapidly to customer requirements.
Simon Mason the Design Manager at Thomas Dudley explained to us that they now prototype everything they aim to make in the plastics factory. They are even creating rubber waterways utilising either the tango material or the brand new Stratasys Agilus material. The possibility of printing jigs, fixtures & tooling in the future is also there.
Thomas Dudley are committed to working in partnership with existing and new customers as a value-adding, strategic engineering partner. Unlike many other foundries, Thomas Dudley can call upon its state-of-the-art design and development facilities which include 3D printing further supporting any customer with new product developments programming –which is a core proposition.
Mick Cramphorn | Foundry Director