Decathlon chooses Figure 4® for its ADDLAB
Decathlon, a synonym for innovation
The leading French company in the sports sector, Decathlon, combines two activities: the creation of products and their distribution online and in shops. With over 320 points of sale in France and 1600 internationally, DECATHLON and its teams have been working since 1976 with a constant ambition: to innovate in all areas in order to remain the main gaming partner for all sportsmen and women.
This approach was built over time, and more precisely in the 1990s with the arrival of the first Decathlon own brands. It is within its own brands that the company demonstrates its creativity: through design, R&D and technology, with the aim of making sport increasingly accessible to the greatest number of people.
A new concept store where 3D printing is the focus
DX, the new Decathlon concept store, is perfectly in line with the approach of continuous evolution of the famous French brand. In this “showroom” shop located on the DECATHLON Campus in Villeneuve d’Ascq, the aim is above all to understand the methods of the future (merchandising, checkout, communication, professions, products…).
And when it comes to exploring, testing, improving and researching, it’s all about 3D printing. That’s why ADDLAB, DECATHLON’s 3D printing service, has moved into the heart of the new shop. Julien Guillen, Decathlon’s Additive Manufacturing Leader, details the objective of the project, which will soon be celebrating its fourth year: “We accompany our tools and products throughout the value chain, from the conception of the idea to its end of life; from the prototype to the after-sales service. We also work on other subjects such as product customisation, co-creation, pre-series and small series production”.
Figure 4 technology occupies a privileged place in the ADDLAB de Decathlon
Figure 4® by 3D Systems and its wide range of functional materials are key assets of the research and development activities of Decathlon and ADDLAB. Figure 4 is an additive production technology that uses a non-contact membrane to combine precision, exceptional fidelity and ultra-fast print speeds in a single solution.
According to Grégoire Mercusot, materials engineer at ADDLAB, the use of Figure 4® Modular gave Decathlon a major competitive advantage in terms of speed, precision and versatility. It is in fact a semi-automatic and scalable 3D production system, designed to grow with the required capacity. Consisting of a central controller that can be combined with up to 24 print modules, Figure 4® Modular gives companies the flexibility to evolve at their own pace.
A real case of use: fishing weights
One of the first successful uses of the Figure 4 system for Decathlon was the production of fishing weights for freshwater carp. The weights are used to project the line and stabilise the hook. The project started when Gautier Destrebecq, a member of the Decathlon team, realised that the competition offered only one model. Wanting to diversify his offer, he developed several weights. However, the usual Decathlon mould supplier was unable to supply the master models, so Decathlon would have to find another way to get them.
Before Decathlon had the Figure 4 Modular, it would have had to turn to a second supplier for the supply of the master models. The usual Decathlon time for this type of project is one month. Instead of following this route, Gautier turned to Decathlon’s ADDLAB. He wanted to see if there was a faster method of obtaining solid parts that could withstand the mould making process. These parts would have to retain their shape and detail at a temperature of 160˚C at a pressure of 180 bar. After testing several options, the required performance was achieved with 3D Systems’ Figure 4® HI TEMP 300-AMB material. This is a transparent, rigid plastic designed to withstand very high temperature environments.
Time saving cost reduction
Having a reliable material at its disposal, ADDLAB has 3D printed fishing leads. They sent them to the mould supplier within two days so that he could create the moulds. In addition to the considerable time savings that this process has achieved, the in-house creation of the mould models has enabled Decathlon to reduce the additional costs associated with product development and speed up the time to market. According to Destrebecq, “This is the magic of in-house 3D printing. I am less stressed in my design work and can achieve unattainable goals with a traditional approach.