Rapidparts provides production quality mouldingsRapidparts started machining rapid injection mould tooling immediately and could provide parts in the actual design material [polycarbonate] within 15 days
Rapidparts provided moulded polycarbonate parts in 15 days for Eaton’s new range of switches. The Middleton, Manchester site of Eaton Electric Ltd, opted to use the services of specialist, fast-track plastic injection moulded parts manufacturer, Rapidparts, when developing its latest product range.
New Modular Grid Switch Range
Eaton is a major player in the electrical installations business and its products are used in blue chip projects worldwide, including Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and London's Canary Wharf. The company was looking to create a new modular grid switch range – small units that fit into frames mainly for use in office and commercial applications, but also for some domestic use.
After Eaton examined the new parts in more depth they decided that some would require prototyping. Having used Rapidparts for a number of previous quick-turnaround injection mould requirements, the company had no hesitation in picking up the phone.
Moulded Parts in Final Design Material in 15 Days
“Rapidparts said they would start machining rapid injection mould tooling immediately and could provide parts in the actual design material [polycarbonate] within 15 days,” explained Eaton’s Quality Support Engineer. “We had tried rapid prototypes produced using stereolithography [SLA] but because of the material you don’t really get a true feel for the functionality of these components. Using the service provided by Rapidparts we could give the parts a proper ‘form, fit and function’ test, including strength testing.” Rapidparts prototyped the three main mouldings required for the new grid switch modules: a base, which houses the metal contact parts; a cover that fits over it; and the internal rocker. A small quantity of around 500 of each part was supplied and “worked very well” according to Eaton.
“I think we had one issue where one particular switch wasn’t functioning correctly,” says Mr Roczniak. “However, we talked to Rapidparts and they quickly made a clear polycarbonate version so we could see the switching mechanism in action. It allowed us to discover that one of the terminals wasn’t sitting down properly and so we made a small design modification to compensate. Ultimately it’s far cheaper to make changes at the prototype stage that when in production.” By way of additional benefit, having prototypes in polycarbonate also allowed Eaton to prove the laser marking process. The new range of Eaton wiring accessories is currently being launched in the UK.