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Discover how 3D printing and Desktop Manufacturing solutions helped Plunkett Associates slash its lead times!

Request your free sample watch the case study video here Product development, prototyping, and manufacturing are jobs that require speed — especially when you’re doing them for someone else. Companies developing new products can’t afford to wait, requiring tight lead …

Ile Kauppila

February 2, 2023

Request your free sample watch the case study video here

Product development, prototyping, and manufacturing are jobs that require speed — especially when you’re doing them for someone else. Companies developing new products can’t afford to wait, requiring tight lead times and superb part quality from their prototypes. That’s why Plunkett Associates has turned to 3D printing and desktop manufacturing.

Plunkett Associates guides their clients through their product development cycles. The company’s expansive service catalogue offers everything from product design advice and consulting to low-volume parts manufacturing. With the innovative use of 3D printing and other technologies, Plunkett can now serve its clients faster than ever.

Read on and find out how 3D printers and desktop water jet cutting allow Plunkett to compress time for their clients.

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Plunkett Helps Their Customers Get Things Made

Plunkett Associates, headquartered in Gloucester, is a reliable one-stop-shop for UK manufacturers who need help with product development or production parts. Jon Porter, Commercial Manager at Plunkett Associates, says the company has a very simple goal.

“We get things made. That really does sum us up perfectly,” he says.

And Plunkett gets things made, indeed. In Porter’s words, the team is all about agile manufacturing.

Founded in 2005 by Tim Plunkett, the firm offers a wide range of services for companies that don’t have the time, expertise, or industry contacts to manufacture or source their own prototypes or production parts. Plunkett can help them with product design, prototyping, tooling and moulding, low- to medium-volume production, and more.

“We help provide the support our clients need to develop new products and produce affordable manufacturing solutions that allow them to step through the phases of their product development. We’re essentially here to take our customers through their product development lifecycle and support their activity as their product grows through to maturity,” Porter says.

The company has numerous customers across the medical, high-value consumer goods, and telecommunications sectors, among others. To serve such a diverse clientele, the Plunkett team needs versatile manufacturing tools that fit every provided service.

To this end, Plunkett partnered with Solid Print3D to introduce cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. The powerful trio consists of 3D Systems Figure 4 and Raise3D Pro 2 3D printers, together with the Wazer waterjet cutter.

The Fantastic Figure 4

Discover the Figure 4

3D Systems Figure 4 is an ultra-fast, versatile resin 3D printer. Using digital light processing (DLP) technology, it can produce highly detailed parts with smooth surfaces at a blistering speed. Plunkett has definitely noticed that advantage.

“Figure 4 is a fantastic machine. The parts it produces simply speak for themselves. The performance and accuracy of the parts are just wonderful,” Porter says.

As Plunkett works with medical clients, the team particularly appreciates being able to sterilise parts produced with Figure 4. But across the board, the company — and their clients — have been most impressed with the sheer quality of the 3D printer’s results.

“The PRO-BLK 10 in particular has very strong ABS-like qualities. The parts are strong and accurate. It’s very, very hard to tell them from a moulded part,” confirms Porter.

Thanks to Figure 4’s high printing speed, Porter says the company can now receive a part design from their client, print the component, and get it shipped — all within the same day. In the near future, Plunkett plans to introduce clear resins to expand the technology’s production capabilities.

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Raising the Standard with Raise3D

Discover the Raise3D Pro 3

But fast and accurate as Figure 4 is, Plunkett doesn’t put all its 3D printing eggs in one basket. The company also operates Raise3D Pro 2, an FFF printer that works with a wide range of materials, from basic PLA and ABS to advanced carbon fibre- or metal-filled filaments.

Porter says that the team greatly appreciates Pro 2’s abundance of materials and large build volume. But more than anything, it’s the fact that they can always rely on the machine that impresses them.

When Plunkett needs to get things made, Pro 2 is always ready.

“What’s really important for us is that Pro 2 builds parts when we need them. It’s hugely dependable,” says Porter.

Pro 2 has proven itself with reliable service, with issues being exceedingly rare. Thanks to the machine, Plunkett can deliver its parts exactly on promised schedule.

“The machine never seems to let us down,” Porter summarizes.

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At the Cutting Edge with Wazer

Discover the Wazer Waterjet Cutter

Serving such a wide range of industries, Plunkett also needs traditional manufacturing capability. Accompanying its CNC machines and injection moulding machines is Wazer — the world’s first desktop-sized waterjet cutter.

Curiously, Plunkett acquired the Wazer machine as something of a joint investment. The company was talking to a particular customer who was keen to see waterjet cutting added to Plunkett’s capabilities.

Long story short, the company partnered with Solid Print3D to acquire the machine. Porter praises Wazer’s versatile ability to cut practically anything.

The company has used it to slice metals and ceramics. But more than anything, Wazer has distinguished itself in cutting gaskets and other parts out of various rubber materials.

“We use the parts to supply our customers and they’re delighted with the quality and accuracy Wazer produces,” Porter explains.

In addition to its clients, Wazer has also helped Plunkett itself. Thanks to its cutting capabilities, Plunkett has produced spare parts to repair and maintain other equipment in its own facilities.

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Compressing Time for the Clients

Ever since Plunkett introduced the 3D printers and Wazer, the hardware has helped the company realise many benefits. But first and foremost, says Porter, the team is impressed by the sheer speed the machines bring to the table.

“This hardware allows the customer to compress time. It allows us to provide customers with parts effectively on demand, and that’s a wonderful asset,” he says.

The increased production speed allows Plunkett’s clients to breeze through the product development phase. They can include more iterative steps in the design process, creating innovative and well-designed products that they are able to bring to the market faster than ever before.

Yet the 3D printing technologies — both Figure 4 and Pro 2 — aren’t limited to design and prototyping. According to Porter, Plunkett can also use them to manufacture end-use-ready components.

“Over the years, this technology has changed in a huge amount of ways. The parts that the technology now produces are extremely viable for low- and medium-volume manufacturing. That allows our clients to step into early-stage production conveniently and in a very affordable way,” Porter explains.

Meeting Agile Business Needs

Plunkett has smoothly integrated 3D printing and Wazer technologies into their workflow — but even professionals can run into problems. Porter says that Plunkett’s close relationship with Solid Print3D has helped the company avoid issues with the new technology.

“Working with Solid Print3D is so straightforward. They’re able to provide us with consumables, but also the technical support we need. From time to time, we have things we need to understand in a little bit more detail, and they’re always available to us,” he says.

Together, 3D Systems Figure 4, Raise3D Pro 2, and Wazer — alongside the support of Solid Print3D — have allowed Plunkett to streamline its operations. Like always, Plunkett simply gets things made.

Now, they just get them made faster.

“All of the equipment that we bought from Solid Print3D has something in common — the ability to meet our agile business needs,” Porter concludes. Want to introduce 3D printing or desktop manufacturing to your business? Get in touch with the Solid Print3D team! Call us at 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.


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