Philips Color Kinetics transforms environments through dynamic and innovative uses of light. Their award-winning LED lighting systems, lighting controllers, and custom lighting solutions reinvent light as a highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly, and inherently digital source of illumination.
Founded in 1997, Philips Color Kinetics virtually invented intelligent LED illumination, and was the first manufacturer dedicated to designing dynamic LED lighting systems and bringing them to market. Only Philips has successfully installed its LED lighting systems in over 34,000 locations in more than 100 countries around the world. Some of their installations have been running continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for almost a decade.
With nearly a dozen mechanical engineers on staff, Philips designs 15 to 20 projects a year. These assemblies range in complexity from simple to intricate light fixtures. CAPINC has had a long relationship with the team at Philips providing their SOLIDWORKS support, so it was an easy decision when they started exploring their rapid prototyping options to ask CAPINC for guidance.
In the past the designers at Philips Color Kinetics used machined parts and modeled assemblies for their prototyping needs. Philips’ Principal Mechanical Engineer Stephen Lee explained their prototyping process prior to 3D printing:
“We worked with either model shops or machine shops to have parts machined out of material that would be similar to production. Then we’d be doing testing on parts like that. The lead-time was, what people are familiar with, longer. It typically was more expensive in terms of the part cost at least because of the time and effort it took to make those parts”
To increase their design cycle speed, Philips turned to Stratasys 3D printing options for their rapid prototyping needs. Investing in two 3D printers vastly improved the cost and time spent on prototypes.
“One of the biggest benefits of having 3D printer technology now is the quality of the design you can make. You’re not only able to come up with a possible solution to a particular design problem, but you can get feedback within hours.”
The ability to hold the 3D printed part in their hands so quickly allows the engineers at Philips to see designs and alter or update them within hours instead of days. The design cycle is rapidly sped up and their designs have only benefited from having in-house 3D printing capabilities.
With the variety of projects and lighting fixtures Philips Color Kinetics designs, they chose to have both a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and a PolyJet 3D printer. The Dimension and the Objet 30 Desktop have become valuable assets to the team as they provide two very different printing options.
“They are two different technologies essentially… For a snap-fit, for a little more robust part we go to the FDM machine. For higher resolution parts we’ll use the Objet.”
The durability of the Dimension FDM parts is often used for more structural strength testing in parts to check the design. When Stephen and the other engineers are looking for finer details or higher resolution, they use the Objet 30 Desktop PolyJet printer, allowing them to create a more realistic looking part. Even with two very different technology options, Stephen explained how frequently the machines are utilized:
“When we have both printers going we have increased capacity, and they are typically going every day at least some time during the day. It’s not unusual at all to have them both running over night jobs.”
The increased capacity between the two printers has been a great addition to the Philips Color Kinetics prototyping process. They often have both of printers running jobs at the same time. Because of the differences in the printers’ output parts, they have the option of using one or the other depending on the specific need of the part. Stephen explained how he thinks 3D printing can benefit designers in most industries:
“If you’re doing mechanical design work and you want to get that feedback faster it really improves your solution and so it gives you a better offering for your customers essentially. And you’ll be able to hopefully meet their needs a little bit better and come up with a more innovative solutions because you’re able to dial in the ideas that you have.”
Philips Color Kinetics strives to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation. CAPINC is a happy supporter of Philips with their SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys solutions.