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3D printing-enabled research & development takes shape

NS-3D-1-200A new Innovation Center at Dayton Superior Corp.’s headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio, spans product showroom (below), chemical research (shown here at right) and engineering (facing page, bottom) laboratories; product testing and prototyping equipment; and, contemporary training areas. The 15,000-sq.-ft. facility is oriented around these business segments and functions:NS-3D-2-200

  • Chemical Products—comprehensive laboratory and application testing;
  • Accessories—new product concepts, prototype modeling with 3D printing technologies and capacity verification using advanced test equipment;
  • Forming—new product designs and complete forming system display areas providing voice-of-customer capabilities in a controlled environment; and,
  • Paving—expanded product development capabilities.

NS-3D-5-200“The Innovation Center coincides with the company’s commemoration of 90 years leading the industry in the design, manufacturing and distribution of specialized concrete construction products, and the 113th anniversary of our Symons brand forming systems,” says Dayton Superior CEO Jim McRickard. “[It] continues our legacy of innovation by allowing us to assess, evaluate, prototype and launch new products at an industry leading pace that ultimately creates a competitive edge for our customers.”NS-3D-6-200

Using a 3D printer for prototype modeling is not a new notion for the company. Since early 2010, Dayton has had the capability to produce parts made from ABS Plastic. This ability was enhanced at the beginning of 2013 with an upgrade to the printer that allows the company to produce pieces with the full strength of parts injection molded from ABS. This second machine, capable of producing parts from PC/ABS Copolymer and Structural Nylon, was operational just prior to the opening of Innovation Center in July 2014.

NS-3D-3-200“We have produced many initial concepts with the 3D printer that have subsequently gone into production. For example the clamping mechanism for our new Sym-Ply forming system started out as several different 3D plastic prototypes prior to being finalized and tooled up as a ductile iron casting (above),”explains Andy Magee, product development manager with Dayton Superior. Dayton Superior has also used 3D printing technologies to develop innovative product concepts to include testing functional parts in concrete (below).NS-3D-4-200

Operation of the 3D printers can be observed by visitors at the Dayton Superior Innovation Center. The Center supports a product development initiative dubbed STEP, whose rigorous State-Gate decision model moves ideas from inception to launch. Since its 2013 debut, employees and customers across the globe have submitted ideas representing upward of $300 million in potential new business.