Timberland, the makers of fine footwear had a problem. Their traditional product development process involved using 2D designs for 3D objects. That may sound crazy, but this is the way manufacturing has been done for a very long time. It’s only recently that 3D technology has begun displacing 2D techniques.
At Timberland the 2D-to-physical-model process was quite laborious, involving painstaking and tedious work by technicians to interpret the 2D designs accurately. Once the smoke cleared and a wood or foam model rested on the table, Timberland reckons the cost was approximately USD$1,200. And that’s per model, to say nothing of the turnaround time to get it completed.
Recently they acquired 3D modeling and printing technology (ZCorp & Spectrum) and have reduced their costs and time so much that their design process has fundamentally changed. Instead of “front-loading” the design, they now design and print “innumerable” models and test them vigorously in an effort to find the optimum design.
It’s not just faster; it’s better.