Founded in 2015 by Shin Aoyama, Kenta Matsui, and Yuichiro Nakagawa, Pocket Change created a kiosk that was installed at train stations and airports – usually the start and end of journeys for many. What the kiosk does is to convert leftover bills and coins into electronic money, vouchers or charitable donations depending on the user’s preferences.
This totally anonymous process would typically take no more than a few minutes.
But the process to get there wasn’t an easy one for Pocket Change especially during the development phase, where they met with several challenges. They had to iterate multiple times given that a large number of uniquely designed parts had to be created for this completely new invention, and some of the parts’ complexity was impossible to manufacture with CNC machining.
Mr. Aoyama who was director of product at Pocket Change then decided to turn to 3D printing for their speed, lower costs, and confidentiality. But after several attempts with the desktop 3D printers that they had bought, they found the parts’ quality to be generally poor and lacking in repeatability.
He soon turned his sights on industrial-grade 3D printers and settled on the F170 from Stratasys which was well-known for its accuracy and reliability. Furthermore, the printer’s roomy tray (254*254*254mm) allowed for multiple parts — especially the small ones that Pocket Change requires — to be printed in one go.
“If we make 10 parts, they are of exactly the same quality,” praised Mr. Sasaki, director of operations at Pocket Change. The accuracy (within an accuracy of 0.002mm/mm), quality, and strength of parts also meant that it can be used directly as end products, and represented huge savings in time and costs.
During the process, Pocket Change also stumbled upon a color-coding trick with ABS material that allowed everyone to understand what they were doing. For example, engineers can simply give instructions like “remove
the red part” or “open the blue one” for easy execution.
For startups like Pocket Change, the reliable industrial-grade F170 3D printer from Stratasys helped them immensely in their journey towards transforming ideas to actual products that can make a difference.
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