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Plastics manufacturer saves on tooling with FDM prototyping

Supplier: Rapid Pro
15 August, 2012

SULO MGB Australia operates one of the largest plastic injection moulding plants in Australasia at Somersby, just north of Sydney, on NSW's Central Coast.

The prototype: 60L mobile garbage bin (MGB)

This prototype was required as an accurate representation for look and feel of a new wheelie bin designed by SULO to allow for any design changes prior to undergoing injection moulding which requires costly tooling.

The client: SULO MGB Australia Pty Ltd

The SULO facility is the most highly automated large tonnage injection moulding plant in Australia and is famous for the manufacture of wheelie bins.

SULO has delivered in excess of 10 million mobile garbage bins (MGBs) into the Australian market and maintains its position as market leader based on its significant production and delivery capabilities together with innovation and quality.

The rapid prototyping process: FDM prototype for form, fit and function

The product that SULO developed for the Australian market was significantly different to any existing products available. As part of their research and development phase, SULO requested a prototype from FDM to accurately represent the finished product that will be injection moulded.

Because it is new, SULO needed to carry out extensive testing to ensure key criteria would be met by the finished product, along with ensuring market acceptance.

In addition to this, injection moulded products require significant investment in tooling. Therefore, it was critical to SULO that the design for the finished product was perfected prior to approving any costly tool development.

The full size 60Lt MGB (515mm x 440mm x 640mm) was too large to build in one piece. It was subsequently built in 8 sections which were fixed together prior to being finished in white. The wall thickness was only 3mm, just like a standard injection moulded bin.

Completed in four days, the project took only a fraction of the time it would have taken to produce an injection moulded tool which is around 16 weeks. The prototype was only 10 per cent of what the cost would have been if the part was injection moulded.

This picture above shows the prototype when it was sent to SULO.

SULO then had it spray painted at an Automotive Paint Shop so that it could be used as the centrepiece for their stand at Enviro2010 in Melbourne.

The result

"The prototype produced by RapidPro allowed us to take the product concept to our market and gain feedback on a sample that was an accurate reflection of the end product both dimensionally and visually," Vienna Spence, business development manager, SULO Australia, said.

"As a result of our market testing a number of changes were made to the overall product design and approval of our tooling development is underway.

"We expected to have the product in full production by June this year and as a result of the RapidPro prototype already have customer orders in place."