In 2022, Sonic Communications purchased eleven Markforged printers. They haven’t looked back: Sonic’s Markforged five Onyx Ones, four Onyx Pros, and two X3s are constantly in use.
“It is all about starting an additive revolution in the business,” said McDonald. “We invested in 3D printing with Markforged to open up what we can do and allow us to be more creative,” McDonald continued. “They are not only saving us time and creating efficiencies, but allowing us to customise designs to create better products.”
No longer limited to the squared edges of parts built by CNC milling or injection moulding, 3D printing has allowed Sonic Communications to — quite literally — think outside the boxes they produce to house audio equipment. Using Markforged, they now develop lighter parts that are more ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing. The Onyx materials also make Bluetooth transmission possible, which is especially advantageous for audio accessories, and impossible to achieve with machined metal.
One example of this is their new EHIU3 application box for law enforcement, which connects a headset to a radio. Printed in Onyx, the new model is lighter and easier to handle than earlier injection moulded versions.
“The curves and texture make it easier to handle and more ergonomic. The customers love them,” said McDonald. “Once they see and feel a 3D printed part, they want a second one.”
“Thanks to Markforged, the product went from design to main production in only three months, where it could have previously taken up to a year,” he said.
In addition to opening doors to new products, Markforged offers flexibility. Sonic can work around supply chain delays by modifying their designs to incorporate available electronic components. For example, due to current chip shortages, it is often easier to source larger than standard circuit boards for audio or surveillance equipment. Instead of waiting for what can be up to a year for the more standard, smaller boards to become available, Sonic can easily modify the casing design to accommodate electronic parts that are immediately available. The functionality of the part remains the same with the benefit of customers being able to receive the final product in weeks.
“Using Markforged we can create the best possible fit because it’s totally customised,” explained McDonald.
The printers also streamline Sonic’s selling process. A potential customer can come into a meeting, discuss what they are looking for, and leave with a physical prototype of the part they want to buy. From there, Sonic can design and print the end-use part based on the technical specifications provided by the customer.
“Markforged is helping us turn ideas into reality for our customers. They come in with an idea of what they want and leave with a realisation of what we can do. Having an actual prototype of the parts we can create for them builds momentum, interest, and a passion for how we can help them.”