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Design Changes made quickly without the high risk thanks to Whale 3D’s multi-material 3D printed parts


Whale’s Gulper electric waste pump includes a rubber diaphragm that drives waste through the head of the pump without clogging. These pumps are fitted in Domestic bathroom applications to manage shower drainage waste as well as in various marine applications to handle bilge and bathroom waste. As leaders in both markets we have built our reputation on reliability and innovation so any modification to the pump design is a risk that we need to manage.


Whale’s Gulper Waste Drainage pump is a core product for our business, as we manufacture many thousands of these pumps annually. When faced with the decision to make a change to the rubber diaphragm in this successful product, we needed a way to test the changed design before making any modifications to existing injection mould tools. How did we do it?


Using our Polyjet technology and the ability to print in transparent, rubber and ABS like material meant that we could test , test and test some more to ensure that the design change was robust before paying out and taking the risk of changing an accurate tool.


Using our Connex 350 machine, we printed the modified diaphragm design in a very flexible rubber like Tango black Polyjet material. We then 3D printed a transparent pump head and pump body and used those to analyse the action of the 3D printed rubber part inside the pump . Using Polyjet materials that are watertight worked perfectly as we were able to run the part in our lab to analyse the flow of water through the head and see for ourselves the flow of fluids through the pump head, hence proving out the modified component. These visual checks would not have been possible with fragile SLA type models.

’Overall the properties of the Polyjet materials ensured that we had rubber-like and transparent parts all robust and watertight to enable us to carry out our most fool proof testing of components ever. When we are modifying a critical part in a successful design the stakes are high and our advanced multi-material 3D printing reduces the risks and speeds up the decision making every time’ Richard Bovill – Whale Design Engineering Director

STEP 2 – 3D PRINTED MOULD TOOLS –Whale 3D leading the way in ground breaking 3D printing

To further eliminate the risk of modifying tools, using high temp ABS like material, we were able to actually 3D model mould tools- fit them into our in house polymer injection moulding machine and inject the actual moulding polymer material – exactly like our standard injection moulding process. This was revolutionary ….instead of making one or two prototyped rubber- like parts, we were able to produce an initial batch run of 50 parts to complete life testing, and further prove put the modified tool design. This removes the risks of going straight to metal tooling where the cost is high and the risk of a problem with the change is possible.

Jim Sargent explains:
By 3D printing a mould tool and injection moulding the actual rubber materials, we ended up with complete assurance that our design change was successful. In some ground breaking work, we then produced a mould tool in high temp ABS-like material and moulded a new modified diaphragm which was then fitted in the production part and run on life test in our lab. The printed tool fits into our standard Polymer injection moulding equipment, and we were able to inject two different types of TPE’s to diaphragm to select the best one using the printed tools. Whale 3D is one of only a handful of companies around the world who have perfected 3D printing of mould tools in order to injection mould rubber parts – and the benefits to us and other companies are enormous. We can now prove designs with detailed testing faster than ever before, and that has a significant impact not only on new product development, but also in delivering enhancements to the current product range.’

Gulper Head
Gulper Head
Gulper Head
Gulper Head

We've used Whale's 3D printing facilities on a number of occasions, and each time we have received first class service. Their technicians always work closely with us to ensure the items produced are what we desire.

The quality of parts are of a very high standard, and the versatility of their facilities allow us to explore different materials and compositions whilst designing.

They are very willing to help and have always made sure we get our parts when we need them.

James Leckey, James Leckey Design Ltd.

CK International - A mini machine needed asap!


CK International, the manufacturer of balers for the management of recyclable waste, were due to launch their new XX machine at IFAT- in Munich – the world’s largest trade fair for waste and sewage management. Their challenge was to display a large machine effectively in an exhibition hall environment, and Whale 3D provided the solution.


This model was printed on our Connex 500 machine, where the extra large print Tray Size 500×400×200 mm (19.7×15.7×7.9 inch) enabled us to create this model measuring half a metre in length in a single piece.


Due to the tight timescales, Jim Sargent at Whale 3D took the 3D drawing of CK International machine, and 3D printed a scaled down model of the machine during holiday time to ensure it was delivered in good time for the exhibition.


Printed in a rigid plastic material, the model displayed fine detail, once spray painted, finished and decals attached – the final model was a fantastic way for CK International to bring their product to life in a way that brochure and photographs simply cannot do.

The model’s fine detail, and gloss paint finish created a high quality product display, and a great talking point at the exhibition. Overall an effective way to sell the new machine to potential customers.

CK International
CK International
Gareth McCullagh, CK International.