Nashik Engineering Cluster (NEC) is a non-profit organisation established under Industrial Infrastructure Upgradation Scheme (IIUS) by the Ministry Of Commerce and Industry. In line with its founding objective to enhance the overall competitiveness of Indian engineering industry by introducing cutting-edge technologies and quality engineering support, NEC decided to implement 3D printing technology in its facility and started to provide commercial prototyping services, helping companies accelerate their product development process. With FORTUS 900MC 3D Printer, NEC can now serve their customers needs faster, cheaper and better than ever.
The technical cluster aims to provide R&D quality infrastructure and technical assistance to various industrial sectors, including but not limited to machineries, moulding and tooling, etc. The establishment of the cluster is part of the government policy, yet the success of NEC depends much on its vibrant initiatives. NEC started with providing technical and design support through CAD and CAM software. While most of its clients come from the automotive sector, NEC also assisted the design and engineering of product development from aerospace, FMCG, defence and pharmacy industries.
Prototyping at the leading edge
According to Harsh Gune, CEO, NEC, “NEC has become a vital stop for thousands of engineering companies in Nashik in their design and prototyping stage of product development process. NEC’s choice of 3D printing solution depended heavily on the technologies capability to produce durable and stable quality of prototypes for functional testing as it can win the hearts of the customer”. For this reason, he invested in a Stratasys® Fortus® 900mc in 2007 for NECs engineering department.
After receiving the CAD drawings with precise geometry from their customers, the NEC team converts the CAD file into a compatible format and creates the prototypes from the 3D printers. “The pre-processing time takes about an hour, with material also pre-selected by the customers based on NEC’s recommendations. The dimensional accuracy provided by Fortus® system is essential for design verification,” explained Gune. The 3D printed prototypes are occasionally served as end-use parts after completing preliminary visual tests on the printed prototype for quality, form, fit and dimensions.
Minimum hassles, maximised results
In one of NEC’s assigned jobs, the team leveraged the FDM-powered 3D printer to prototype a customer’s automotive dashboard. The part that was 3D printed in ABS thermoplastic is mechanically strong and stable over time, which could simulate the true automobile dashboard for multiple functional testing, such as ergonomic, assembly and fitment, and even crash tests. Comparing to traditional manufacturing methods such as die & moulding process that would require 8 weeks to build the same dashboard prototype, 3D printing slashed the time to 12 -14 days.
The NEC staff was able to use the Fortus® system to shorten the average design cycle from 9 months to about 2 months. In light of the growing diverse needs among the city’s engineering sectors, Gune added, “Faster lead time also helps us to save cost for more than 50%. After all, the customers also benefit from it as their products can reach the market much earlier.”
Today, NEC is well-received not only among the engineering companies in Nashik, but also from other parts of India and abroad. Customers are impressed with the concept and the support provided by the cluster. In 2014, the NEC expanded their service to establish a design clinic, helping the local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector through engineering and design support where 3D printing continues to play an integral part.
“Thanks to our in-house 3D printer, we can now serve customers needs faster, cheaper and better than before. We are excited about bringing more insightful projects in the future,” said Gune.
Courtesy: DesignTech Systems