Variations on a theme

Paul Boughton

Photofabrication (Services) Ltd had a customer that was interested in creating prototypes with several modifications of the same component.

The dimensional difference between each size of this component was 0.1mm, but selecting the dimensionally correct component was crucial. Furthermore, at the prototyping stage, delivering the parts quickly and keeping the costs low were high priorities.

As a method of manufacture, chemical milling can produce all variants of a component at the same time - at no extra cost. The only stipulation to achieve this is that all components are manufactured from the same metal type and thickness.

In this project, the graphics department repeated all the differently sized components so that they filled a typical 450 x 300mm (18in x 12in) photo-tool. Component variables were sectioned for easy identification and the handling border on the sheet was marked to show the different sizes of the parts (Fig. 2). In addition, the parts were attached to the sheet by small tabs as opposed to being supplied loose.
The customer was pleased to receive all modifications of the parts at the same time, saving weeks on production time and paying only 25 per cent of the cost of producing the variants one at a time. This is an excellent example of true rapid prototyping at a fraction of the cost.

Recent Issues