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Prototyping | product development

sealed vacuum pouch). Styles says Star created a working prototype of the Nomiku device using a combination of CNC machining, SLA modeling (out- sourced), silicone moulding, and polyurethane vacuum casting The team then hand painted the finished product and created an internal heat sink using wire cutting – all in just five days. Styles, who founded Styles RPD in the UK before

selling it to Arrk, established Star Prototype in China in 2005. The company currently employs more than 100 people, and is expanding at a rate of around 50% per year. Styles plans to spend another $3-4 million in new equipment over the next five years or so. However, he is currently reticent about acquiring AM equipment in China, although he has set aside space in the facility. “These machines are extremely expensive. The one we want is around $600,000. At the moment, the greatest demand from our customers is for toolmaking and prototyping, mostly using CNC machining.” The Chinese government is trying to change his and other peoples’ minds and is investing massively to support a local AM industry. But for now, Star is sticking with its more traditional methods, updated for the 21st century. “For sure, we will pursue our ‘One-Man-One- Mold’ service [OMOM] as one half of our manufacturing portfolio and the other half will be CNC machining,” Styles says.

OMOM was launched in June of this year as a service

offering ‘Parts in Days.’ According to Styles, one skilled designer/toolmaker works alone in a fully equipped toolmaking booth to produce a complete injection mould in P20 or aluminium. “The Master Moldmaker has his own CNC milling machine and a half share of EDM solid-sink and EDM wire machines,” he says. The Master Moldmaker receives the 3D CAD data

from the projects office and is tasked with designing the mould using Delcam Toolmaker Pro, choosing a pre-stocked die-set from the store room, and then proceeds to make, fit and trial the entire mould. Parts are ready in three to 15 days. The AM industry has, in the past, seen quite some activity in terms on intellectual property enforcement so it is encouraging to see evidence of cooperation among some of the leading technology suppliers. Earlier this year, Concept Laser, EOS and Trumpf

updated and extended their patent licence agreement from 2006. Concept Laser, which is a subsidiary of Germany’s Hofmann Innovation Group, says the new agreement gives it all licence rights to sell its Laser- Cusing products worldwide. In addition, Concept Laser and EOS have agreed a

cross-licence, which gives each party licence rights to the other’s current patent portfolio. The two companies

Hofmann delivers for VW

Automotive is one of the major application areas for rapid prototyping. For the latest version of its classic Golf hatchback, Volkswagen made extensive use of RP to accelerate its development process. Germany’s Robert Hofmann, part of the Hofmann Innovation Group,

used various RP technologies for numerous components on the car, including headlights, fog lights, reflectors, rear lights, boot door covers, side panels for seat covers and the dashboard. Hofmann provided prototype sub-assemblies as well as series production tooling (30 injection moulding tools within a lead time of only 10 weeks). As a general rule, Hofmann uses moulding processes using alumini-

um tools, moulding with resin-based tools and silicone moulding, as well as plastics laser sintering. Michael Mayer, project manager for alumini- um tooling for model building at Robert Hofmann (pictured), says laser sintering is economically viable for producing one to five large compo- nents or as many as 500 very small parts. ❙

have agreed to withdraw all patent opposition cases which were pending between them. Concept Laser coined the word ‘Cusing’ from the C in

Concept and blended it with the word fusing. The melting technique generates components layer by layer using 3D CAD data. While similar to the sintering technology incorporated in EOS and Trumpf equipment, Concept Laser claims to be able to create a more dense structure.

Click on the links for more information: ❙

October 2013 | INJECTION WORLD 31

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