SUNConferences, RAPDASA 2014

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Leslie Becker, Robert Ian Campbell, Deon Johan de Beer

Last modified: 2014-10-26


Designers at the Vaal University of Technology were set the task of designing a means of integrating a Samsung 10" Tablet with a biometric scanner. Other Tablets models also had to fit into the design as the final end user could not be forced to use only Samsung Tablets. There was a requirement for a rapid turn-around and so a combination of technologies was used to create “Hybrid Prototypes”. The Additive Manufacturing (AM) process known as Laser Sintering (LS) was used to produce components to be used as patterns, since it facilitated a good surface finish and good release angles for tooling. High quality Polyurethane (PU) composite tooling was then produced to curb component costs whilst maintaining the ability to cope with the stresses and temperatures seen during manufacturing. The Hybrid Prototypes consisted of several LS parts, PU composite castings, “off-the-shelf” components such as brass inserts (used as fasteners) and the feature that allowed these prototypes to become versatile, the laser cut holding struts. These holding struts fitted perfectly into predetermined grooves in the prototype base. The struts could be cut according to the contour and height of the different Tablet models. Post-process finishes, wet spray painted after sanding, made the products appear as if they had been injection moulded, as this would be the preferred route to mass production. This paper covers the strategical planning of the project, critical design criteria addressed and the pros and cons of process followed to complete twenty units for market sampling by means of field tests in several locations. The paper also discusses how the design was influenced by the rapid turnover of new tablets in the market place and how the parameters shifted over time. Finally, conclusions are drawn as to how the combination of AM with other technologies can increase the flexibility of the prototyping process.

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