Silver award: Heavy gauge, pressure form
Ray Products (Ontario, CA)
A medical device manufacturer was ready to move from prototype to mid‐scale production. During the prototyping and approval process, the OEM used urethane casting to create the panels for the medical device enclosures. However, this was limited by manufacturing capacity and resulted in high per‐part costs and issues with part‐to-part consistency. By switching from urethane casting to pressure forming, the medical device manufacturer was able to significantly lower costs, improve manufacturing speed, increase durability and guarantee part‐to‐part repeatability while planning for future increases in demand and capacity.
The design company worked closely with the thermoforming company’s manufacturing team and the medical device manufacturer’s engineering team to make sure they were getting the most out of the process. This meant reducing the total number of bosses, designing in undercut features for rigidity and improved fit, and working in other attachment points to lower the total manufacturing and assembly costs, while improving aesthetics.
In order to achieve the required undercuts and tight-tolerance parts, the thermoformer used machined aluminum tooling that is temperature controlled with actuating slides. High-quality tooling also allows for the tools to be textured when the time comes for molded-in color. Starting with tooling that will achieve part‐to‐part repeatability is important when you are using six-axis robotic trim centers to complete your production parts.
The thermoformer worked to develop a scalable manufacturing process. At the medical device manufacturer’s lower initial quantities, painting the finished parts was the most cost‐effective option. However, as the customer ramps up volume, the program will move into a molded‐in color process that will reduce costs and still maintain aesthetics and quality.