Direct Manufacturing using SLS Technology
"What we could not achieve in our tight time constraints with hard tooling, we manufactured with rapid prototyping."
The engineers at a local OEM, an innovator of global positioning systems (GPS) technology, needed to field test a new design for a connector cable housing. Waiting weeks for hard tooling to create the housings was not an option.
Instead they looked to rapid prototyping to create useable parts in days. "We've had to rely on rapid prototyping more and more as schedules compress," commented an engineer working on the project.
The housing, reminiscent of a clothes pin, needed to snap over the connector cable, keep it in electrical contact with features in the housing, and withstand abuse. This flexing requirement was met by DuraForm, a material used in the selective laser sintering (SLS) process that created the housings.
Result: Within two days the local OEM, had parts for testing in hand. "The parts worked very well in the field tests," stated the lead engineer on the project. "DuraForm has good flex properties that allowed us to cycle the parts numerous times."