Case Studies

RIZE 3D printing helps save $120K p/a for IRA Green’s custom military insignia

RIZE, a Boston-based industrial polymer 3D printer manufacturer, has helped IRA Green Inc. (IGI), a contract manufacturer of military insignia, to save over $120,000 in production per year. 

Headquartered in Rhode Island, IGI has developed and distributed approximately 40,000 custom uniform items and paraphernalia displayed by military personnel on an international scale. Its tool shop creates coining and blanking dies as well as small fixtures for welding and polishing. Bill Yehle, Manufacturing Manager at IGI and RIZE’s design team incorporated 3D printed parts and fixture nests to meet the growing demand of its products at significantly reduced costs. Yehle comments:

“Implementing RIZE 3D printing as part of a strategic process shift has completely transformed our production process.”

Example military insignia produced by IRA Green. Photo shows a gold plated badge for an Aerial Navigator in the Navy. Photo via IRA Green
Example military insignia produced by IRA Green. Photo shows a gold plated badge for an Aerial Navigator in the Navy. Photo via IRA Green Inc.

3D printed fixtures & fittings 

For over a year, IGI has been integrating additive manufacturing into its tool shop, and has so far produced an estimated 300 fixtures with the technology. Applying the RIZE ONE 3D printer, the items can be manufactured in 50 minutes at a cost of $2.00 per part. Prior this, new designs had to wait in a queue for several days before they could be made. Additionally, each fixture demanded 8 hours of CNC programming, and setup of pockets or contour electrodes for tool steel and wire EDM flat pockets, which costs $300 per part.

The RIZE ONE, which uses patented Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) technology, is said to provide injection molded-quality parts, suitable for holding badges and insignia. The team can now produce several different versions of fixtures per day. IGI has also been able to standardize the molds, resulting in faster setup and changeover, repeatability and increased accuracy. Yehle adds, “We have realized an 80% time savings in setup and changeover alone using RIZE and virtually eliminated errors.”

A 3D printed fixture holds a military insignia. Photo via RIZE.
A 3D printed fixture holds a military insignia for welding. Photo via RIZE.

A critical advantage

Typically, machine operators clamp down fixtures and nail them to the welder, which requires considerable trial and error to get the correct placement. Processes such as “turning and burning” additionally required melting molds into nylon to hold it in place, which was rather time-consuming and inaccurate, according to Yehle.

RIZE’s technology eliminates the need for these methods and tools, reducing the IGI’s tool room backlog. Also, RIZE’s ink marking capabilities have allowed IGI designers to label parts in storage for future identification. The printed markings serve as three-point verification for machine operators to prevent errors.

Earlier this year, the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) of the U.S. Army in New Jersey used the RIZE ONE to 3D print and label spare parts on-demand.

“The process we are using with RIZE gives us a unique competitive advantage,” concludes Yehle. “We are looking to expand the use of RIZE technology to applications in other areas of the company.”

Vote for RIZE as OEM of the year (Enterprise) in the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards.

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Featured image shows example military insignia buttons produced by IRA Green. Photo shows replacement buttons for an Army engineer. Photo via IRA Green Inc.