HLC Invests in 3D Printing, Revolutionizes Mold Production and New Product Design


System provides fabrication of physical models in hours

September 17, 2013—Newell, WV—Imagine if you could go to your printer and pull from its tray a fully dimensional, live-to-size sample of what only one day before was simply a drawing on your screen. Star Trek didn’t even predict this one.

The Homer Laughlin China Company® (HLC Inc.), one of the largest dinnerware manufacturers in the world, has invested in 3D printing technology to reduce production time and costs related to new product development. The prototyping system enables the quick fabrication of physical models using three-dimensional computer-aided design data. The system allows HLC to turn innovative ideas into successful end products rapidly and efficiently.

The company has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past decade to make their 37-acre manufacturing complex in Newell, West Virginia, one of the most modern in the world; however, many dinnerware manufacturing processes remain difficult to modernize. Model creation was one such process, until now. “The new technology is extraordinary,” says Gene Williamson, Vice President of Sales, Foodservice Division, for the HLC Inc. family of companies, including Homer Laughlin; Hall China; and RAK. “This new production tool is the ideal solution for build size, surface quality, accuracy, ease of use, and versatility. 3D printing allows us to simulate the precise look of the intended end product.”

HLC designers generate a drawing from their 3D modeling software, be it a plate, pitcher, cup, or any other product they want to design. The 3D printing machine reads the data from the CAD drawing and lays down successive layers of liquid, building up the physical model from a series of cross sections. These layers, which correspond to the virtual cross sections of the model, are automatically joined together to create the final shape. The system produces ultra-fine details, including thin walls down to 0.6mm (0.024").

“3D printers are a fantastic resource,” says Williamson. “We are able to build any object, any complex geometry our dinnerware artisans can dream of. Whether it’s used for a custom shape or to more quickly create models for existing units in our line, the applications are endless.”

About The Homer Laughlin China Company
The Homer Laughlin China Company® (HLC Inc.), founded in 1871, is the largest remaining domestic tableware manufacturer in the United States. HLC Inc. is proud to lead the way in both product sales volume and in creating American manufacturing jobs. Homer Laughlin China, Kenilworth/RAK, and Hall China comprise the HLC Inc. family of companies, and its diverse range of lead-free commercial dinnerware meets every conceivable need for today’s discerning chefs and restaurateurs. Setting the tone—not just the table—is at the heart of the HLC commitment to its customers. For more information, please contact the Homer Laughlin China Co., 672 Fiesta Drive, Newell, WV 26050. Phone: (800) 452-4462. Fax: (304) 387-0593. Web: www.hlchina.com. Email: hlc@hlchina.com.