“Working with a local 3D printing supplier was a key factor in our intentional growth strategy. At Flock Safety, we understood that we needed to get our cameras into neighborhoods to prove our products' functionality to customers and investors before we reached the stage of mass manufacturing. Therefore, 3D Printing Tech was an ideal partner to work with to produce some of our internal components because they could supply the parts we were utilizing on an ongoing basis and were flexible with our changing weekly demand.”
Supply Chain Analyst at Flock Safety, Kati Schrieber
Flock Safety is the first public safety operating system that powers 1,500 cities to capture objective evidence, make it actionable with machine learning, and deliver it directly into the hands that stop crime. They work with the whole community neighborhoods, businesses, law enforcement, and elected officials because it takes all of us working together to make an impact on crime.
Early-stage design iterations required multiple parts and components which would have required high tooling costs to injection mold each one. With nascent demand and an evolving design, Flock Safety needed a way to produce parts that could be used in their end-use product, which would be used in outdoor installations and would hold electronics, without spending money on tooling just yet. Getting cameras in the field was critical for not only the development of the product, but also the successful securing of investment.
1) Flock Safety – Needed to launch the product before the design was finalized
2) Neighborhoods – Needed an up-to-date technology solution to assist in solving and preventing crime
3) FlockSafety Investors – Needed to see a successful product launch and proven technology
FLOCK SAFETY’S STARTING POINT TO FIND A SOLUTION
Flock Safety, like many other product development companies, already knew that 3D printing was the primary method for prototyping and early-stage development for their product. With machines running in-house, they were able to design and iterate on their first versions.
When it came time to get their product in the field, their prototyping 3D printers were unable to keep up with the volume.
Flock Safety decided that working with a local 3D printing vendor, like 3D Printing Tech, who they could sit face-to-face with to help expeditiously solve problems with their product development, avoid shipping delays, and allow for rapid same-day turnarounds, could be advantageous.
SUCCESSFUL 3D PRINTED SHORT RUN PARTS FOR EARLY-STAGE LAUNCH KEEPS INVESTMENT IN TOOLING TO A MINIMUM
Ultimately, Flock Safety needed to launch their product to prove that it worked prior to finalizing on the design and investing in injection molding so that they could secure additional rounds of funding from investors.
3D Printed Product Launch
The team at 3D Printing Tech produced internal components and parts for Flock Safety such as cable guides, PCB standoffs, and battery boxes. All these items were ones that would change shape over time in the product development process as Flock Safety narrowed in on the final configuration of all the electronics and internal components.
3D Printing Tech sat with the product developers and purchasers at Flock Safety to work out production quantities and timing, and to help modify the designs for improved production run 3D printing. The SLS printing method in Nylon12 was introduced as a new option for the PCB standoffs that were not a perfect match for typical FDM printers.
Flock Safety proceeded with an open purchase order for many of the parts, as they were in early-stage production handling most of the assembly in-house and did not have a good way to estimate their needs at that time. Therefore, 3D Printing Tech agreed to print a minimum number (or more) of their various parts every week so that Flock Safety was never waiting on parts to assemble.
Eventually, the 3D printed internal components enabled Flock Safety to prove out their technology and initiate a successful product launch, in order to receive another round of investment funding and settle on the final design for their product. This enabled them to switch parts production to injection molding, which brought their costs down at volume.
Benefits of a Strong, Collaborative Partnership
The collaborative partnership with 3D Printing Tech worked so well for Flock Safety, when addressing their core need to launch their safety camera product before a design was finalized, that Flock Safety additionally asked 3D Printing Tech to help prototype their larger enclosure as well and make some custom trophies for their marketing department to give out to leading sales reps on a quarterly basis.
1) Flock Safety had a successful product launch, which earned further investment.
2) Neighborhoods had a tracking method to detect, decipher, and deliver invaluable intelligence about potential criminal behavior to the appropriate law enforcement offices.
3) Investors had a sure bet product with high demand that they could get behind with further funding and resources.
3D PRINTING TECH COMPANY OVERVIEW
3D Printing Tech specializes in production quantity and large-volume 3D printing with laser sintering (SLS) and filament extrusion (FDM/FFF) methods. Its customers include fast-growing, mid-sized, large, and Fortune 500 companies. In addition to 3D printing, 3D Printing Tech utilizes 3D modeling/scanning, laser cutting, and vacuum forming to support its production and client projects. The team’s understanding of the importance of effective communication, and its commitment to helping people understand how to use 3D printing to grow their businesses and create efficiencies in manufacturing and production, are foundational to the long-term relationships it forms.