Balea streamlines prototyping process with Stratasys in-house 3D printing

Based in France, Balea is one of Europe’s only manufacturers of weight control systems for the supply chain industry. The family-owned business produces systems for pallets, trolleys, and boxes that help companies correctly weigh and load the right amount of goods when preparing orders.

Over the years, the company had maintained its market leadership by continually innovating and optimizing new and existing product solutions. Third-party injection molding companies were typically used when it came to prototyping, but this process was costly and time-consuming.

Balea trolley equipped with electronic weighing systems to load the right amount of goods during preparation of orders.
Balea trolley equipped with electronic weighing systems to load the right amount of goods during preparation of orders.

Each prototype would cost 20,000 euros and took around 3 – 6 months to complete by a third-party supplier. If there were any design iterations, there would be a further charge of 20,000 euros. As such, prototyping was not always commissioned leaving the design team to make do with 2D designs.

Aiming to take control of the design process with more flexibility, Balea ultimately decided to go with Stratasys and their F170 3D printer after a search to solve their prototyping needs. With the compact F170 3D printer installed on site, it is fast and simple to produce a fully functional prototype within a day and work efficiency is also boosted immensely with the GrabCAD Print software which accelerates the whole design cycle effortlessly.

Among the parts created are the outer case housings for their electronic weighing devices. Prior to having the F170, prototyping would involve injection molding via third-party suppliers before final part manufacture in cast iron or aluminum which is a costly and time-consuming process.

Outer case prototype that houses an electronic weighing machine,, 3D printed in ASA material.
Outer case prototype that houses an electronic weighing machine, 3D printed in ASA material.

With the F170 placed right in the office, the Balea team is able to do prototyping with production-grade ASA thermoplastic. The resilience of the material allows for functional tests to be performed, and their non-conducive properties make it fully compatible with the electronic devices that Balea produces.

The time savings obtained with Stratasys 3D printing technology enabled Balea to manufacture a new trolley and weight system to exhibit at an industry event. Despite making 4 – 5 iterations to get a perfect product out, they still had plenty of time to spare before the event actually started.

Outer case prototypes produced with the F170.
Outer case prototypes produced with the F170.

The installation of the F170 has allowed Balea to transform the way they do business with the integration of 3D printing and establish new flexible freedom of design approach for their prototyping process.

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