PRODUCT: Rapid Prototyping a Concept Part

A customer required a custom plastic profile to fit a need their portfolio did not meet. The only known element was that there was an opportunity for both Engineered Profiles and the customer to overcome with rapid protoyping.

THE CHALLENGE

A customer of Engineered Profiles required a specific profile to fit a need their portfolio did not meet.  This part had never been purchased or produced by the customer.  The only known element in the problem was that there was an opportunity for both Engineered Profiles and the customer to overcome.  The challenge was to design a part, prove it out, and develop a tool on time for the customer to take to market at an industry trade show.  The only way to make this economically possible, and meet the time constraints for all involved, was to do some rapid prototyping.

OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGE

The conceptualization portion of the task was undertaken by Engineered Profiles design team.  This group routinely works with engineering teams from across a wide spectrum of customers to design new profiles that accomplish specific tasks.  The part in question needed to function with other existing profiles, while still being aesthetically pleasing to customers.  A new rapid prototyping process was required for the project.

Once the overall concept of the part had been finalized in modeling software, the part was built with a 3D printer to check the final design elements performed as expected. Whereas before, a project like this would have required Engineered Profiles to build a tool in order to test an unproven part, Engineered Profiles was able to have a proof of concept made overnight. This concept part was used by the customer to approve initial designs before tool building began.  This approval process included checking form and function of the prototype part in real world applications.

The method of engineering a part for a plastic extrusion, and then 3D Printing a test piece, has rapidly increased the speed at which a new part can be developed.  A new approach to design lead to 90% of the design and approval process being handled before tool building commenced. This information was provided to engineers who were able to create a finalized tooling package that would produce a product replicating the printed part.

RESULT

Tool building for prototypes can be full of unknowns.  Discovering those unknowns before tool building begins can dramatically reduce the prototyping phase of any project.  The net result is building one tool that produces the desired part rather than building several tools with different design iterations. The part in question was designed significantly faster when compared to traditional development methods.  The actual build of the tool being so close to the finished product was a huge advantage in the process development phase.  This is a case where the design and engineering teams at Engineered Profiles were able blend their twin talents of flexible design with engineering creativity.    Rapid prototyping in custom profile plastic extrusion is the key when there is a need for speed.

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