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Canon BIG Rivertrace casestudy revUpdated .pdf

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Rivertrace Engineering

Engineering a more efficient
R&D process with 3D printing
Company Name
Rivertrace Engineering
Redhill, Surrey
Water pollution monitoring
Relationship with Canon
One year
Product purchased
ProJet 3510 plus

To deliver a sustainable, affordable
and efficient prototyping process


Time consuming and inefficient R&D
process with high wastage

High levels of downtime

Very expensive prototyping

Over reliance on third party suppliers

The installation of a 3D printing solution
to rapidly and sustainably deliver

More rapid R&D & delivery
of prototypes
Reduced reliance on
Lower R&D costs
20-25% increase in
More sustainable
business model
Creative and flexible
design solutions
Faster time to market

More rapid
R&D & delivery
of prototypes

Engineering water tight R&D
with 3D printing
Rivertrace Engineering is a company
that specialises in oil and water
monitoring instrumentation for the
marine and industrial sectors. It began
operating as a family business 30
years ago – but has now grown to a 28
strong global operation, conducting
business in mainland Europe, North
America, the Middle and Far East.

Rivertrace’s overarching mission is
to develop products that protect
the world’s rivers and oceans from
pollution; and support customers
in remaining compliant with
environmental regulations. Its
sophisticated technology analyses
contamination levels to ensure that
water pumped back into the sea from
rigs, power stations and ships is oil
free. The company plays a key part in
protecting oceans and rivers, so it is
crucial for Rivertrace to have a strong
research and development (R&D)
process to support the business.

As the company has grown, it
became clear that traditional methods
were insufficient to cope with the
increasing demand from customers.
Rivertrace’s ability to get products to
market rapidly - a crucial element for
helping customers stay compliant and
protect the environment – was being
impacted. Rivertrace decided it had
to tackle this challenge and identify a
more rapid, cost effective, productive
and sustainable R&D model – to enable
industries to leverage cutting-edge
water monitoring equipment sooner.

The search for an effective
and sustainable R&D model
Successful R&D is crucial for
developing high-stake and cuttingedge environmental protection
technology. Rivertrace’s legacy R&D
operation comprised the conceptual
design of a prototype, sending the
drawings to a machine shop, or
toolmaker, where the prototype
was created and then delivered to
Rivertrace. This prototype was then
integrated into the relevant product
for performance testing. After
testing, the prototype design was
revised and sent back for another
prototype part to be machined and
returned. This process could involve
between two and five iterations,
dependent upon complexity, to get
the prototype to a production ready
With this process it could take
upwards of six weeks for each

iteration of the prototype to be
delivered. Rivertrace’s owner, Mike
Coomber, realised a change was
“We had to optimise our R&D to
better support our customers
in achieving a greater level
of sustainability,” says Mike
Coomber. “A few of our peers were
experimenting with 3D printing for
prototyping, so I went to see them.
This prompted me to speak to
Canon representatives about how
they could help. They came back
very quickly with sample 3D printed
parts of the very high quality we
required. Based on this, and the fact
that Canon is a trusted brand and a
serious player, the decision to work
with them was easy.”
Mike Coomber,
Rivertrace owner

The impact of 3D
Rivertrace began working with Canon
around 12 months ago and following
an audit of the R&D process, and
extensive consultation, Canon advised
on the best 3D printing solution to
deliver all Rivertrace’s prototype
requirements. Today, a Rivertrace
engineer is able to design and produce
a prototype in a matter of hours,
rather than weeks. This part can then
be instantly tested in a product and
quickly perfected into the final Proof
of Concept.


3D printing

solution has transformed
our R&D. We queue
up the printer in the
evening, and the
following morning we
arrive, clean the 3D
printed part and simply
fit it to the product.
We no longer have to
wait weeks for parts
and now we can get to
the Proof of Concept
in a few days and send
updated drawings
to our suppliers for
production quantities.
The impact on time,
cost and efficiency is
monumental, while at
the same time allowing
us to become a much
more sustainable
business because of it.
Mike Coomber

Business acceleration
The ability to print prototypes
quickly meant that Rivertrace
has been able to cut much of its
reliance on third party suppliers
and reduce total R&D costs. At the
same time, the business is able to
quickly recoup its R&D spend as
it can deliver products to market
faster. Overall, the company has
experienced a company-wide
increase in efficiency of at least
Furthermore, while Rivertrace
primarily relies on 3D printing
for prototyping, rather than
manufacturing, the company
now has time to be more
creative and flexible.

“There is an LCD panel we are
buying in currently, which has a part
on it which is not fit for purpose. By
using 3D printing technology, our
engineers were able to be creative
and design our own part. We simply
printed this part off for low level
production. Now when we have
systems that don’t fit, our engineers
can tackle the problem differently.
They can design a clip, or support,
print it off and solve the problem.
What started off as supporting R&D
has evolved into helping our staff be
creative, solve design problems and
boost low level production.”
Mike Coomber

Flowing into the future
As well as making sweeping changes
to Rivertrace’s mechanical design, 3D
printing has also supported the business
in embracing a more sustainable business
“R&D can use a lot of electricity and a
huge amount of materials,” says Mike
Coomber. Using the old model, each
iteration of the prototype would generate
scrap material which would go to a
scrapyard. There could be anything up
to five or to six iterations that could go
that way causing a lot of wastage. We’ve
been able to completely eliminate this by
using 3D printed prototypes.”
Alongside the removal of wastage,
the 3D printing of prototypes has also
dramatically reduced the requirement
for logistics – as prototypes no longer
need to be shipped. This has enabled
Rivertrace to generate a much healthier
carbon footprint and reduce its
environmental impact.

” new R&D cycle means we can fully

support our customers in keeping pace with
environmental legislation to keep rivers and
oceans clean, by getting devices to them in a
markedly reduced timeframe. Equally important
to us is that this is helping our own business
become more sustainable.
Mike Coomber

increase in

Mike has enjoyed working with Canon and is certain that its partnership with
Rivertrace will develop well into the future.

” are extremely professional and honest.

Working with them has encouraged us to think
differently and we are looking at offering 3D
printing as a service to the wider market.
Mike Coomber

Canon Inc.
Canon Europe
English Edition 0147W156
© Canon Europa N.V. 2017

Canon Europe Ltd
3 The Square,
Stockley Park,


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