3D printing for product development 1

3D printing for product development to cut costs and save time

Hartfiel Automation is a specialized high-tech provider of pneumatics, motion, and mobile control solutions. With the addition of an Ultimaker 3D printer to their product development process, Hartfiel Automation was able to save time and money while diversifying their services with product offerings like hydraulics, aluminum extrusions, robotics, and additional automation solutions.

Shrinking prototype and design costs from $200 to $4 per component

In a matter of minutes to hours, we can have an idea printed and ready for client presentations—much faster than machining or using a third-party source. Lead time to present ideas is dramatically decreased with Ultimaker and provides more control.

- Brian Hagar, Outside Sales, Hartfiel Automation

Challenge and solution


Hartfiel Automation needed a solution for prototyping products that they could test and showcase during customer meetings. Outsourcing designs to machine their products would cost them an average of $125 per component, and would take 1 to 2 weeks to complete with an external supplier. As they estimated that it would cost an average of $3,500 to machine their products without prototyping, the Hartfiel Automation team began searching for a cost-efficient way to iterate and test components.


In an effort to solve customer pain points and utilize unique return on investment tools, the Hartfiel Automation team discovered 3D printing as an affordable solution to prototyping needs. After adding two Ultimaker 2 Extended+ 3D printers to their workflow, they were able to bring their prototyping costs down from an average of $125 to an average of $4 per component. In addition to saving money, they drastically reduced the time spent creating their component designs from days to mere hours.

Cost comparison

Hartfiel Automation is able to 3D print prototypes and designs for client presentations in a matter of hours, while saving money in the process.

Ultimaker 3D printerExternal vendor
Costs$4 per component$125 per component
Time3 to 5 hours per component1 to 2 weeks per component


  • Tangible prototypes for customer visualization: The Hartfiel Automation team can create functional parts and prototypes on their Ultimaker 2 Extended+ printers, which they then present to customers for hands-on visualization.

  • Time savings from ease of use during production: By incorporating Ultimaker into their lineup of tools, Hartfiel Automation effectively cut design time from days to mere hours, allowing for greater flexibility in their production needs.

  • Notable cost savings on evolving R&D demands: With the ability to iterate designs and correct minor mistakes before final production, Hartfiel Automation can easily keep up with evolving R&D demands while also staying on budget.

  • Reliability for seamless prototyping and design: Combined with support from the Ultimaker community, the reliable performance of their Ultimaker 2 Extended+ printers means that the team can count on consistent and quality prints.

Download the PDF