Proving the power of 3D in Ricoh’s own products

Summary: In order to demonstrate the capability of 3D printing, our engineering team worked to improve the functionality of one of Ricoh 3D’s leading commercial printers– and reduce production costs – by 3D printing a total of 158 parts.

The problem: The Ricoh Pro 8300 printer is one of our most popular high-end commercial mono printers, and therefore the ideal test subject to challenge our additive manufacturing capability to improve part design as well as the overall production process. 

The solution: 3D technology was first introduced into Ricoh through our own products and manufacturing operations as we looked to streamline production, optimise functionality and reduce costs. It soon became obvious that we could pass on this unique insight to our customers in order to advance their own product development cycles too. 

In the case of the Ricoh Pro 8300 printer, our experts closely examined the 800 individual parts to identify where the opportunities were for metal replacement and weight reduction, function integration and enhanced part performance.  The team identified that 20 per cent could be optimised using 3D printing.

The parts were replaced like-for-like, which allowed the team to understand exactly how the 3D printed equivalent parts performed.

Multiple parts were consolidated, including the toner compartment which was combined from five parts into one, completely eliminating toner leakage. This had the added benefit of decreasing assembly time and reducing weight by replacing the metal parts with a lightweight polymer alternative 

Casing components were reimagined using generative design to improve air flow and increase cooling efficiency and a number of the printer’s levers and handles were made more ergonomic using AM.

The printer was tested to more than 45,000 pages without any quality issues or paper jams, and with a total of 193 patents filed as a result of these innovations. 

The project is exemplary of how a 3D printing can transform a product by consolidating parts, reducing costly metals and improving function integration. Successful mechanical tests like these allow Ricoh to take another step towards 3D printed end-use parts becoming part of our core product range. Unlocking the potential of flame-retardant materials that perform like-for-like whilst conforming to industry standards is key to realising this vision.