By: 1 August 2008

Sandvik, a global industrial group and world-leading partner to medical device companies, has identified the opportunity to further enhance speed to market with the introduction of a new rapid tooling process.

The medical industry is one that demands real speed to market, so being able to respond quickly with the right offering is imperative for customer success.

Nic Seymour, Technical Director at Sandvik, explained: “Lean manufacturing methods have already trimmed down process times at Sandvik but the implementation of rapid tooling via a resin-based, rapid-prototyping has opened up another area of opportunity.

“This advance means we can now side-step some of the challenges presented by traditional methods of wax-based rapid prototyping, such as running high quality, detailed samples and producing larger volumes.”

Although the ability to produce small volumes as a one off has become fairly common place in recent years, via Stereolithography (SLAs) and wax thermojet machines, these methods are not ideal for larger volumes or where fine detail or dimensional considerations are important.

With the resin-based, rapid-prototyping machine, Sandvik can create high-quality accurate models while reducing tooling lead times from two-to-three weeks to two-to-three days. This ultimately has a knock-on effect for the timescale of the entire rapid-prototyping process.

Nic continued: “Our state-of-the-art, resin-based rapid prototyping process can also be used for rapid tooling or to create the moulds or tools from which prototypes can be fabricated.

“Traditionally, rapid prototyping have been wax based. However, these are typically slow to manufacture and the dimensional stability is not easy to control. Surface finish can also be coarse in comparison to production parts due to the use of build supports and they are very labour intensive to repair and prepare for processing.

“With the resin-based, rapid-prototyping machine, larger volumes can be produced while offering a much improved surface finish and dimensional accuracy. The process also permits the manufacture of complex tooling to the same design standards as hard tooling in a fraction of the time.

“The machine can also manufacture multi-piece tooling where undercuts, negative tapers, moving slides and loose pieces need to be incorporated into the design. Redesigns to existing tooling are also possible as it's easy to revert back to the original design while redesign samples are tested.”

Sandvik continually assesses opportunities for innovation in order to increase its service offerings to customers. To support this aim, the company is striving to align R&D strategies with those of its customers.

In an industry where speed is key, Sandvik is continually looking at ways to improve speed to market. Through rapid prototyping, the company can support medical companies that face the commercial challenges of translating clinical designs into products that need to be manufactured quickly and efficiently.

For further information, please contact:
Clare Usher or Elizabeth Green
Tel: 0121 772 5533
Email or