Norfolk Foods, a joint venture of British and Sri Lankan origin, has utilised 3D printing to innovate and customise their food production to suit their customer’s needs.
The company commissioned 3D Concept Studio, the first rapid prototyping firm in Sri Lanka, to customise an existing machine to produce a specialised product.
“We constantly use machines for different purposes other than the one it was intended for,” said Ameena Ziauddin, Associate Director at Norfolk Foods.
“And this usually requires the swapping out of a few key customised components. But when you’re trying to make a product that’s unique to Sri Lanka and then get the component down from our overseas suppliers, there’s going to be something lost in translation. So, we spent a considerable amount of time on this project before 3D Concept Studio offered us the solution.”
Due to the restrictive and expensive nature of computer numerical control (CNC) systems, which rely on creating molds, Norfolk Foods was unable to find a foreign or local supplier that could customise the component to their unique specifications. However, with 3D printing they were able to go through several iterations at a fraction of the cost and time. This helped them gauge how it worked at each stage, identify new problems, update their specifications and expectations to eventually produce the perfect final component. A feat not possible had it not been for 3D Concept Studio.
“We didn’t have any engineering drawings to give them,” said Ziauddin. “We briefed them on how the final product should look and what it should do, and they extrapolated everything from that. They did the CAD [computer aided design] drawings, made the changes and consulted us every step of the way until we got the final product. After 20 years in the industry we don’t have that sort of flexibility with any other supplier.”
While few corporations in the country have embraced 3D printing, beyond its use for simple replication, Norfolk Foods unleashed the technology’s true potential by exploring product development. Taking advantage of 3D Concept Studio’s experience, design features, flexibility and concept to product strategy Norfolk Foods continues to lead the way in innovation in food production.
“It’s really exciting that a company like Norfolk is experimenting with innovation through 3D printing,” said Nissanga Warnapura, CEO and Founder of 3D Concept Studio. “While the answer could have simply been to buy a new machine they saw an opportunity and then identified what needed to be done. And with this success it could change how engineers in Sri Lanka view certain problems in the future.”
3D Concept Studio was founded in 2013 and offers services in 2D and 3D design, 3D scanning, 3D printing, 3D fabrication and laser cutting.