It’s not just good enough to create a product these days, it must be different, it must have its own look and feel, and it must be accepted by its clients.
Smith Innovation begins most of their designs by talking with their clients, and sometimes even asking them for sketches. This approach has them in the forefront of what their client wants. No number of in-house design concept meetings can compete with such an approach. Often, it’s something small that makes the difference between a product being used or not.
According to Brian Smith, President of Smith Innovation (Waxahachie, TX), “One of our recent projects, a personal use product for the disabled, was created in such a way. After receiving a number of sketches, it was our job to figure out the best processes to use to produce the part.” Smith Innovation designed the product using SolidWorks 3D CAD system, then tried out a number of manufacturing processes, including injection molding, along with three different silicone gel components that were then bonded to the plastic substrate.
“It was important to us to offer the customer something with a look and feel unlike anything else they could find on the market,” Brian said. The company progressed through three design iterations before settling on the final product. Each iteration, is produced using solid modeling, which allowed them to adjust the unique cosmetic features of the final product. “We created our designs using SolidWorks 2012, 3D design software, then converted the file to an STL format from that data, and uploaded the STL file through the internet at the ZoomRP.com site. It was easy,” he said.
ZoomRP.com provided the prototype part as a single solid component, combining the plastic base part as well as the gel grip parts into one. This allowed Smith Innovation to have a sample of what the product would look like once completed. It also gave them the opportunity to make additional cosmetic changes until they felt everything was perfect. The product was produced using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which allows for a highly accurate finished product to be produced quickly and affordably with nylon material. “The part required very little post processing, which included some sanding and a few small feature adjustments,” Brian said. “The bristles had base diameters of 0.030-in. and tapered upward to about 0.010-in diameters,” he added.
This is where the benefits of ZoomRP.com came into play. According to Brian, Smith Innovation received the parts overnight. “The key to our needs included unbelievable speed of delivery, reasonable cost outlay, and very accurate detail,” Brian explained, “and that’s what ZoomRP.com delivered.” Overall part tolerances were +/-0.007-in.
The final component was approximately 1-in. thick, 19-in. long, and 5.5-in wide.
The reason Smith Innovation went with ZoomRP.com for their SLS additive manufacturing process was because the part design had complex surfaces that couldn’t have been fabricated as easily or as accurately using most subtractive processes available. “It’s often easy to underestimate the number of features you need to get the desired shape you want,” Brian said.
When it comes to producing standalone products for any industry, ZoomRP offers a variety of additive manufacturing processes, including PolyJet, SLA, SLS, and FDM. Smith Innovation was able to choose the right process for their particular needs with ease. This allowed them to produce an important product for their market within a very short timeframe.
Terry Persun is a Technology Journalist, and holds a Bachelor’s of Science as well as an MA in Creative Writing. He has worked as an engineer as well as a marketing consultant. Seven of his novels have been published. “Cathedral of Dreams”, is a science fiction story of the near future, and a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalist. His latest novel is “Revision 7: DNA”.