Revolutionizing windshield tool production with the Flexbot

Logo of REDU

REDU, the Lapland Education Center, provides state of the art training to young adults to create a competitive workforce. They are the largest vocational school in Finnish Lapland and educate young professionals across many trades. As such, REDU creates an important link between education and industry, granting companies access to the latest technologies whilst also training and providing their future workforce. They undertook a pioneering project utilizing their Flexbot for large-scale additive manufacturing. This case study explores the challenges faced by REDU, the innovative solution provided by the Flexbot, and the outstanding results achieved in their debut 3D printing project.



CEAD Solution



Jakob Haerting and Severi Salmirinne with the Flexbot


Before integrating the Flexbot into their organization, project operators Jakob Haerting and Severi Salmirinne had limited experience in large-scale 3D printing. The challenge was to produce a complex windshield tool, consisting of two parts, interconnected with a hinge. The mold would serve as a press to shape PC/PET sheets into the desired shape of a windshield. Despite it being one of their first projects after receiving CEADs operator training, they did not hesitate to take on this challenge.

Flexbot solution

The Flexbot, a cutting-edge robot based additive manufacturing technology platform, emerged as the perfect solution to REDU’s challenge. This modular 3D printer provided the necessary flexibility in printing and machining varying parts, a cost-competitive alternative to traditional metal molds, as well as a resource efficient, i.e. sustainable, solution for creating a windshield mold for industry use. Moreover, this case study, sheds light on an additional layer of complexity: Jakob and his colleague, with backgrounds in law and carpentry had almost no prior experience in 3D printing, except for some prints on FDM/SLA machines. New to industrial 3D printing, they navigated this new territory with the mold being their first actual project. Prior to starting the project, they received an on-site operator training facilitated by the CEAD team as part of the Flexbot installation. This way, new operators are trained to independently use the Flexbot system.

The material chosen for the molds was UPM Formi 3D 20/19. Right after receiving the training, they started successfully printing test cubes and fine-tuning the settings, before proceeding with the mold. This marked a significant leap, considering the shape to be far more complex than a cube. To add, the project wasn’t solely about 3D printing: machining of the part would ensure the desired finishing of the mold. For this, they could also utilize CEAD’s Flexbot, since it is a hybrid technology platform, which allows the operator to switch between a 3D printing pellet extruder to a CNC milling head to finish the part.

The print produced with Large format additive manufacturing


The results were nothing short of remarkable. The windshield tool, standing at 900 mm tall and 600 mm wide, weighing approximately 37 kg, was printed using UPM Formi 3D 20/19 material. The initial cautious approach was evident in the conservative layer time of 216 seconds, initially fearing potential collapses on overhangs. Subsequent tests, guided by CEAD’s advice, allowed them to confidently optimize the layer time to an impressive 120 seconds without collapses. Machining also posed a new set of challenges. The bottom 30 cm of the molds underwent meticulous testing and adjustments before the entire structure was machined, using a sequence of roughing operations and finally finishing the surface utilizing an 8 mm ball mill and a stepover of 0.25 mm. Given the challenging nature of the mold and the fact that this project was their first, they adopted a more cautious approach. This led to a remarkably smooth surface finish. The mold has successfully been used. The two parts of the molds were connected with a hinge and now serves as a press. A 3 mm (PC/PET blend) sheet is heated and pressed into the machined space between the molds, shaping the sheet into the desired shape.

The total duration of the project, including planning, testing and machining, spanned approximately one month. Taking into account that this was one of their first projects with no prior experience in large scale 3D printing or CNC milling, this is an impressive result. Jakob and Severi demonstrated commitment and dedication throughout this transformative journey.


“The capabilities of the system and the great team behind it had us convinced from the start.” – Jakob Haerting, Specialist for CNC-Machining and 3D Printing, REDU