Polaris renowned for its high-quality snowmobile, off road vehicles and motorcycles, continues to set the pace thanks to 3D printing.
Since developing its first snowmobile more than 65 years ago, the company has continued to innovate and develop new products – and relies on equally innovative and tried-and-trusted technology to keep it ahead of the chasing pack. “It’s a really interesting work environment,” said Cory Bombard, Program Manager for Additive Technology. “It’s fast paced, we innovate products for a variety of vehicles, and it’s very exciting being at the forefront of technology.”
Producing a diverse product line in an ever-changing environment brings its own unique set of challenges. Dan Wiatrowski, Manufacturing Engineer at Indian Motorcycles, a division of Polaris Industries, says tooling is an important consideration for the company. “A lot of what we do works around different styles of tooling. So anything from regular hard plastic 3D printing materials up to some of the new, more innovative materials.”
“We install a lot of complex parts, badging, head dresses, things of that nature to our vehicles. We also work with a lot of chrome and painted parts, and we have strict cosmetic standards that we need to uphold for our customers.”
Prototype tooling costs are also an ever-present issue – however Dan insists 3D printing has helped them reduce costs. “With all the hands-on assembly work that we do in the plant, we’ve begun using 3D printing to change the way we think about tooling.”
Although they work across a wide variety of vehicles, the Polaris team members have one thing in common – they say partnering with Stratasys has opened up new possibilities.
“The biggest benefit is the ability to iterate on new tooling designs. To come up with a design, test it, improve on it and repeat until we get to a good final product has been very helpful,” said Dan Wiatrowski. The other major benefit is the new materials offered by Stratasys – particularly elastomer. “They’re soft enough to not damage our cosmetic parts, but durable enough to withstand assembly manufacturing.”
3D printing will now help Polaris come up with better manufacturing aids and techniques, protect vehicles during the manufacturing process, and revolutionize the continuous improvement journey. He added, “Being able to get a product from ideation, through manufacturing and into the customer’s hands – in a very short cycle – is how we will win.”
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology is a powerful Stratasys-patented additive manufacturing method.
FDM builds concept models, functional prototypes and end-use parts in standard, engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics. It’s the only professional 3D printing technology that uses production-grade thermoplastics, so parts are unrivaled in mechanical, thermal and chemical strength.
“The quality of Stratasys equipment gives us the confidence that we’re going to get a good part the first time, every time.”
— Cory Bombard, Program Manager for Additive Technology, Polaris