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Stewart Golf – functional model and quality finish

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The Brief:
Stewart Golf design, develop and manufacture luxury powered golf caddies and is proud to lead the industry through continued product development, innovation and engineering. Their products are built to the highest standards, use the most advanced technology and enjoy a distinctive, individual character.

They have recently launched the F1 Lithium to the market; a fully remote-controlled top of the range golf trolley, retailing at £2,500. Its design is the result of a ground breaking project whereby the company’s designers were simply asked to make the existing, award-winning X3R golf trolley even better. The design team was given carte blanche to achieve this task, and the results were stunning.

Mark Stewart, Managing Director at Stewart Golf says “The X3R has proved extremely popular with our customers, as they love its look and performance on the golf course, but its folded size was posing a problem for transportation and storage. Hence, a new design brief was issued to improve upon the styling and performance, whilst reducing the folded size and weight.”

The Solution:
During previous product development, the designers at Stewart Golf have used Stereolithography (SLA) as well as plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) using Selective Laser Sintering technology.  However, they found that whilst SLA can be produced to a high quality finish, the material itself was too weak for functional testing and became affected by atmospheric conditions, making them either brittle or too flexible.

Stewart Golf now know it is possible to achieve an extremely high standard of finishing with plastic AM .  3T’s team of skilled modelmakers and finishers can create high quality aesthetics, generating a model that is comparable to the final manufactured item. The resulting prototype model of the F1 Lithium Golf Trolley not only enabled Stewart Golf to produce photography for pre-product launch literature, but the models were also robust enough to allow final product testing both on and off the golf course.

Furthermore, the self-supporting nature of the plastic AM process enables large hollow parts to be produced. With some clever positioning of through-holes by the designers, 3T’s modelmakers were able to remove the unsintered powder from inside the cavity walls. The holes were then carefully sealed to allow a smooth finish to be achieved. The Nylon material emulated that of the actual production material, thereby allowing the designers to create a realistic weight for the parts, making their testing all the more accurate. Had the parts been produced in several pieces and later joined together, this could have compromised both the strength and functionality.

The Result:
Jon Miller, Engineering Director at Stewart Golf says “As good as 3D CAD systems are, there is nothing better than having a realistic and fully functional product in your hands. The plastic AM models enabled the Stewart Golf team to discuss every feature of the product in great detail, ranging from the overall appearance and styling of the product to the smallest of tooling details. The complete plastic AM prototype was also used for demonstration purposes at our distributors, enabling them to appreciate the concept and performance improvements. Furthermore, the individual components along with 3D CAD data were taken to our suppliers to ensure the parts could be easily manufactured without the need for expensive tooling modifications.”

Extra bits:
The resulting F1 Lithium is not simply an updated version of the X3R; with the exception of a handful of minor components, every piece of it is new. It was therefore imperative that the new design was tried and tested before going ahead with full production. Using 3T RPD Ltd’s Rapid Prototyping services, they were able to generate 3-dimensional models direct from 3D CAD data using plastic AM technology. The resulting tactile models enabled the designers to make small design modifications along the way, without the need to invest in unnecessary tooling which could prove expensive and time-consuming.

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