July 28, 2015 | By Simon

With over 18,000 products and 2,500 employees worldwide, Germany’s Hama GmbH & Co KG is one of the world’s leading accessory manufacturers, specializing in a number of product areas including photo, video, audio, multimedia, computers and telecommunications.

Headquartered in Monheim, Germany, the company makes nearly every kind of consumer electronic device and sells them virtually anywhere.  Of course, in order to move products through the product development process as quickly as Hama does, the product development team has come to rely on 3D printing to design objects quickly and iteratively.  

In order to help bring products of all kinds to market faster than most other hardware design and manufacturing companies, Hama uses an X400 3D printer from Germany’s own German RepRap.   

The X400 is a fully assembled large-volume 3D printer that can print intricate models of up to 390x400x330mm in size with a layer height of down to 0.1mm. Additionally, the Double DD2 extruder allows users to print with two extruders at the same time - depending on if a quicker or more fine model is desired.  

“Since we've been using the (X400), product development has been much more efficient,” explains Nils Krietenstein, head of the product design department at the company.

“Previously, we had to send the data to our production partners in the Far East and wait till the sample was sent back to us. This procedure made any necessary modifications very time consuming. Thanks to the 3D printer we can now complete and assess modifications and adaptions much faster.”

Among other products that the company uses their X400 3D printer to create prototypes for include computer mice.  By using 3D printed parts, the design team is able to test a collection of their ergonomic designs with their own hands in just hours - rather than waiting for a sample from their production partner.  Ultimately, what might have only existed as a CAD drawing during the morning can exist as a near market-ready product by that evening using the 3D printer.


For a recent project involving their latest computer mice design, the design team produced the mice prototypes using white PLA, which Krietenstein explains “Is the best color for assessing the design.”  The mice are printed  with a 0.4 nozzle and a 0.25 mm layer resolution with the Simplify3D software.

Once the mice has been printed, the company may repeat the process up to a dozen times before they feel as though they have nailed down the best direction for ergonomics, appearance and functionality.

In addition to their computer mice, the company also produces many other products using their X400 3D printer including various elements of the package design - something that has been becoming increasingly important as manufacturers such as Apple continue to raise the bar for what consumers expect in an ‘unboxing’ experience for their latest tech gadgets.  According to Krietenstein, “Up to 60% of the 3D printer usage is for developing the actual accessories whilst the remaining 40% is for the packaging prototypes.”

Among other components of the package design produced by the design team include inner trays and molds, which may be post-processed and given special coatings to better represent the finish and quality of what would ultimately be the finished package design.  

“We then deep draw the foil and thus produce a handful of packaging samples in order for the team to assess them on the simulated sales wall,” explains Krietenstein.   

“This enables us to print up to ten molds, sometimes even more. Should something prove not to be such an optimum design, we can simply print a new deep-draw mold overnight.”

Unsurprisingly, the design team at Hama is extremely pleased with the X400 in their workflow.  In addition to the increased acceleration of the product development process, the 3D printer also enables designers to experiment more with ‘physical sketches’ much earlier in the design process, too.  

Although Hama is far from being the first or only design studio or manufacturer to incorporate 3D printing into their design process, their continued dedication towards using additive manufacturing technology for speeding up their product development process is a fine example of just how powerful the technology is.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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