Rapid tooling, rubber grommet

“Yes, but I need parts NOW!!!”

A last-minute cable design change required a different grommet to protect a cable as it passed out of an enclosure.  Nothing was available off-the-shelf that had the shape characteristics we needed.  In this case, we needed the durability, heat resistance, and strength and there were no rapid prototyped material available on the market with matching characteristics. We had to come up with a different solution, and we only had a few days to figure it out.

Traditionally, it was necessary to cut expensive injection molding tooling which  takes a few weeks. With small production runs, this approach does not make economic sense for a few parts only worth a couple of dollars. Traditional solutions were not good options.

We solved the problem using rapid prototyping but not in the way most folks would expect.

With a few hours to design and print, we made several sets of tools in the Objet 3D printer.  We then molded the parts we needed using a polyurethane resin.  Polyurethane resins come in different hardness values, physical properties,  and can be color pigmented to match almost any color.

Our mold design uses four interlocking parts.  The unique design allowed the grommet to be molded without any visible mold flash lines on the cosmetic surfaces.  One feature of the Objet 3D printer is that it has the ability to print parts with glossy surfaces, so our molded part would also have glossy surfaces.  The rapid prototyped mold we created required no post-processing as it was ready for use as soon as it came out of the printer.  We put it to use that day.

This same technique can be used to generate other molds for other applications.  Let us put this technology to work for you.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666

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Rapid Prototyped tools for Contract Manufacuting

Our rapid prototyping capability helps us make tools quickly for our contract manufacturing needs.

Have you ever been tinkering around and wondered to yourself, “If only I had a tool that could do…”   All of the mechanical engineers I know have extensive tool boxes. While it is great to have every driver, wrench and helpful thingy known to man at the tip of your fingers, it is not always a tool that is off-the-shelf that will do the job.

One of the services we provide is the manufacturing of wire harnesses.  In one case it was necessary to twist wires together and the client needed parts fast.  Sounds easy, right?  Try buying a reasonably priced tool that can do that, especially when you have crimped ends that most folks don’t use. The lead time to actually get the twister delivered would directly have put us out of the picture.

Since our strength is custom work in relatively small runs of maybe a few thousand pieces, we make our own tools using rapid prototyping.  One of our favorite tools is a handy little device that we use for wire twisting.  Using a small motor, a foot switch, and our special rig, it works consistently and efficiently.  When you need to twist wires for 500 harnesses, the little rig can save hours of work.  With our rapid prototype capabilities, we can easily make new fixtures to accommodate different crimped ends.  Within 24 hours we had conceptualized, designed, and 3D printed the wire twister which is seen in action in the video we made.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666

Going Clear

Lenses and integrated optical housings have traditionally been out of reach of the rapid prototype manufacturing process. In September 2011, Objet released the VeroClear material.  We quickly put this innovative new material to work.   This was the material we had been looking for to quickly make clear prototypes. We have used this plastic for many projects since then. We can now make frosted and clear optical objects.  We have also dyed the plastic to different translucent colors – we like VeroClear… We have used it for both pools and spa markets as well as lighting for the entertainment industry.

Of particular interest to us has been in the LED lighting industry.  With new and innovative lighting products coming on the market, we often find ourselves developing new products for this industry.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666

Going Small

Going Small

Our high-resolution Objet printer is able to prototype small parts that are impossible to produce with many other techniques. This image features a gear we made for one of our clients (yes, we asked their permission before publishing this article).  The actual diameter is 9.5 mm (3/8″) and it fits neatly on the head of a quarter.

They key is in the printer resolution and how the part is oriented with respect to support material.  With an Objet system it is possible to produce parts with a flat finish and parts with a shiny finish.  In this case, it was essential to have the gear produced with a shiny finish so that it had the correct friction characteristics.

Most other of prototyping technologies cannot produce this level of detail or quality of finish.

One key benefit to rapid prototyping prior to full production is that you have the ability to test-fit the part prior to production.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666