D Squared / Product Development

D Squared utilize both additive (3D Printing) and subtractive (Milling & Turning) rapid prototyping processes for the production of ‘Proof of Principle’ and ‘Production Intent’ prototypes. The Formlabs Form 3B+ is an integral part of their development process, which helps produce rapid design iterations up to 4x faster!

Who are D Squared Product Development?

D Squared Product Development, based in Liverpool, has offered a wide range of product design, development, and engineering consultancy services since 2012. With three current staff members celebrating their 10th anniversary, the D Squared team is small but mighty.

The company offers services and solutions for every aspect of product development, from initial concept design and planning to prototyping using both additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies. The team also provides testing and verification services, in addition to Design for Manufacturing & Assembly (DfM&A) for complete industrial volume manufacturing.

“We provide outsourced product development to clients from across the consumer, medical, and industrial sectors. We work with people from universities, hospitals, corporate clients, start-up companies, and even individuals and inventors,” explains Daniel Isler, Technical Director at D Squared.

The D Squared team has worked in both product consultancy and manufacturing environments, gaining extensive experience in the entire product development process. If a part or product can be designed, D Squared can do it.

Formlabs 3D Printers — From Introduction to Everyday Tool

At the heart of D Squared’s prototyping processes lies a Formlabs SLA 3D printer. Over his two-decade-long career, Isler has seen 3D printing gradually become the core tool in prototyping — and D Squared is no different.

Before the introduction of 3D printers, D Squared was already working with CAD and 3D modelling software acquired from Solid Print3D’s sister company, Solid Solutions. So, when the time came to purchase a 3D printer, it only made sense for D Squared to turn to Solid Print3D.

“The fact that we’re getting our CAD software and our 3D printers from under the same roof works very well for us,” says Isler.

“We originally purchased a Formlabs Form 3+ from Solid Print3D because it is by far the best stereolithography 3D printer that you can buy for the price,” he adds.

Although the Form 3 produced high-quality, intricate prototype parts, D Squared knew they could do more with the technology. They’ve since upgraded their SLA printing solution to the Formlabs Form 3B+.

“We purchased a Form 3B+, which allows us to use an expanded range of resins, including biomedical resins. The main reason behind the upgrade is the printer allows us to print with that extended resin range,” Isler details.

Today, the Formlabs 3D printers are the prototyping tools D Squared uses the most on a day-to-day basis, according to Isler.

D Squared designer

D Squared designer

Intricate Prototyping and Product Development Done 4x Faster

The greatest benefit D Squared has seen since it adopted the Formlabs rapid design solution is the ability to bring the entire prototyping workflow into their own offices. Earlier, D Squared outsourced 3D printing to third-party printing bureaus.

“Before, when we were outsourcing our 3D printing, we could order parts and they would be with us in three days,” reminisces Isler.

Although three-day lead times for prototypes certainly aren’t the longest in the industry, it wasn’t enough for D Squared. Bringing prototype production in-house has allowed the company to improve their process and increase their design iteration speed four-fold.

“Now, with the Formlabs printer in-house, we can do builds overnight. We can do a build during the day. So, within a three-day timescale, we could have already iterated a design three or four times,” Isler says.

D Squared design studio

D Squared design studio

This ability to produce their own prototypes is what Isler sees as the revolutionary effect of Formlabs SLA printers. He says they’ve given SME’s the keys to production power that previously simply wasn’t available for small companies.

“Formlabs has really turned the whole 3D printing market on its head by allowing small organisations like ourselves to bring 3D printing in-house and have the quality that we used to have to go to an external company for—but in a desktop package,” summarizes Isler.

Powerful Technology, Endless Possibilities

But for what does D Squared use the rapid prototyping and design capability they get from Formlabs? That is, unfortunately, largely the company’s business secret.

Due to client confidentiality and occasionally long development cycles, Isler says D Squared can’t show off as much of their work as they would like. However, he pulls back the veil of secrecy enough to highlight a couple of fascinating projects.

Charging Dock Case

Among the most significant advantages of SLA 3D printing is that D Squared can effortlessly combine it with other production methods to produce both aesthetic and functional parts. The company demonstrated this capability with a charging dock developed for a client’s wearable electronic device.

D Squared product development

D Squared product development charging case

“We’ve printed the male and female sides of the mould in two different Formlabs resins,” explains Isler.

D Squared used the 3D printed structure to stretch and mould wetter leather over the two halves. As a result, they produced a stylish and fully functional charging dock prototype.

“The final components would be injection moulded. This is an example of how we would use the printer to prototype an actual product,” Isler says.

Prosthetic Leg for a Racing Pigeon

The 3D printers have also allowed D Squared to help the most vulnerable among us. One project the company did was for the owner of their neighbouring jewellery company. But although the Form 3B+ could work with 3D printable castable wax resins, the project wasn’t about jewellery.

“The project was actually a prosthetic leg for a racing pigeon that she had, which has had its leg amputated,” Isler explains.

The D Squared team took careful measurements of the poor bird. They designed an initial prosthetic prototype using CAD software and printed a draft leg assembly for test fitting.

After confirming a good and comfortable fit, the team then produced a more complex, jointed final design. Thanks to D Squared and its new lightweight plastic limb, the veteran racer can once again move around and enjoy its retirement.

D Squared Prosthetic

D Squared Prosthetic

Conclusion

Isler says D Squared clients — from consumer electronics companies to pigeon owners and far beyond — have been happy with the 3D-printed prototypes. But it’s not just the production speed that impresses them, but also the part quality.

“Clients are very impressed with the quality of the prints that come off the Form 3. We often finish those prints, sand them, apply logos with dry rub transfers, and spray-finish them. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the prototype and the finished product,” Isler says.

With rapid design iteration has come an increased capacity for growth. As such, Isler says the company now considers hiring talent to expand its capabilities.

Additionally, they want to scale up their production by moving on to larger Formlabs printers, such as the Form 3BL.

“It would be nice to bring in one of the larger Formlabs printers so that we can do bigger parts in single builds. That’s particularly now as we’re moving towards working with some clients who are doing some larger consumer products,” says Isler.

Adopting Formlabs SLA printers has already opened new doors to D Squared in terms of increased design iteration speed and prototype quality. With bigger and better things on the horizon, the company will surely take innovative product designs to a whole new level.

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