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3D Printing with SLS Helps WinCo Overcome Manufacturing Challenge

3D Printing with SLS Helps WinCo Overcome Manufacturing Challenge

WinCo is one of the nation's largest suppliers of restaurant equipment, and they reached out to 3DChimera with their unique manufacturing challenge. 

They were using a consumer-level 3D printer to produce a small 3D part that they needed for their restaurant equipment. While they were getting reasonable results, it took a lot of time and hand-finishing to get the parts to fit correctly. As a result, several hundred orders were stalled, and WinCo was not able to process them quickly enough.

WinCo Calls 3DChimera for Help

The team at the 3DChimera knew that they could help WinCo with their manufacturing challenge. While WinCo is primarily a logistics company, they have to consider how long it takes to move a piece in and out of their facility. In this case, reaching back to the manufacturer or looking for another source wouldn't work with how quickly they needed the parts to keep this product in circulation. 3D printing allowed WinCo to react very quickly and get the necessary parts within days, not months.

For this project, the team at the 3DChimera used SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printing technology, which uses a powder to create very strong parts. One of its greatest strengths is printing a large volume of small parts all at once, which was perfect for this project. They were able to produce a couple of hundred parts in a single batch, and the quality was 100 times better than the parts that WinCo was producing themselves, on their desktop 3D printer.

The supervisor who oversees that portion of their business called up 3DChimera and said that they didn't have to rework any of the parts. The ones that they were making themselves were costing them twice as much because of the time spent to rework every single part. It freed up a lot of labor on their side, and WinCo is now going through all of their products to see if it makes more sense for them to outsource 3D printing components than do it in-house.

“The experience was great, and the relationship with them has been top-notch every time. If there is a callback, they get it right away, and they get an email back. Even when Alex is on vacation, he responds to meetings and says, ‘Hey, call me if you need to.’ “ shared David Ciampoli, Director of Product at WinCo.

What is the true cost of 3D printing a single component?

It's important to keep in mind that it's not always about just the price of the part, but they also have to think about the cost of shipping, labor for rework, and the cost of keeping an item on the shelf. These types of calculations are where the real value of additive manufacturing lies. Utilizing 3D printing can produce parts on demand, reducing the required square footage in a facility, producing parts quicker that are stronger, and have a better surface finish than traditional manufacturing. You're also able to produce parts that can work for really complicated geometries, perhaps even combining multiple parts together.

Why choose 3DChimera?

The team at the 3DChimera is uniquely positioned to work with companies that have issues like this. Their team of engineers can look at an application and help figure out where additive manufacturing can fit in. They look at it from a solutions perspective, trying to figure out what's going to make the most sense for the bottom line of a business. 

If you're experiencing supply chain issues, the team at the 3D printing company looks forward to chatting with you about how additive manufacturing can help take your production to the next level. 3D printing technology with SLS can help you produce parts quicker, that are stronger, and with a better surface finish than traditional manufacturing. Plus, you'll be able to produce parts that can work for complicated geometries, saving you time and money in the long run.

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