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3D Printing Parts for High-value Snow Machines

16 February 2018

With the addition of in-house 3D printing on Ultimaker for prototyping, functional testing, and creating final parts, Snow Business significantly decreased the time it takes to complete their iterative design process, experiencing considerable cost savings along the way.

The iterative R&D process:

Featured in films such as 007: James Bond, Kingsmen, and Bridget Jones's Diary, you’ve likely seen a movie with snow made by Snow Business. Paul Denney, Head of Research, is responsible for designing the machines. The majority of the R&D focus goes to the important nozzle, which is where the machine mixes air with fluid to create the snow effect.

According to Paul, the only way to make new nozzles with complex air and fluidflow geometry is through 3D printing. New nozzles are developed through an iterative process of print, test, adjust the model and repeat — often requiring numerous revisions before they reach a design that matches the company’s high-quality standards.

Saving time and money:

Before the addition of Ultimaker 3D printers, every time Paul needed to make a design change he had to outsource the request to a selective laser sintering (SLS) service bureau for at least £125 (about $175 USD). Paul had to wait up to 7 days for the new part to arrive, significantly stalling the R&D cycle. Ultimaker was a budget-friendly solution to a pricy problem. Now, new parts are ready in a matter of hours at just the low cost of filament.

With the recent addition of the Ultimaker 3 to their lineup, Paul can also print the nozzles in one piece with Nylon and water-soluble PVA support — leaving no marks on the finished part and saving post-printing assembly time.

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