Building up a case layer by layer

How rapid prototype parts helped to develop and test market a new consumer power drill

When Black & Decker decided to develop and test market a new consumer drill a key requirement was for rapid prototyped parts that could withstand high temperatures. SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) bureau, Amsys Rapid Prototyping and Tooling, provided a solution by producing prototypes in a hard wearing and durable, GFN (glass filled nylon) based material.

To help produce fully functional 3D models of new products, all Black & Decker’s design engineers use TCTs (time compression technologies) such as SLS. Before the introduction of TCTs, trial products used to be fabricated. This was far from ideal, as fabricated products were expensive to produce and long lead times were involved.

Pre-production testing results of prototype parts for the first project – the housing and sole plate of a combination drill, screwdriver, jigsaw and sander power tool, called Quattro – convinced senior design engineer Andrew Walker that benefits could be gained from Amsys SLS when it came to designing a new power drill casing.

`The Quattro project confirmed GFN protoptypes could withstand the demands of rigorous pre-production testing, he said. What is now required for the new casing was a prototype material that could withstand the very hot temperatures reached by the 700W electric motors during product testing. Sometimes this could be over 100 degrees C. Stereolithography softened at these temperatures, and distorted significantly due to motor torque reaction. Composite tooling parts were found to be unsuitable because the moulding process led to casing warp. The answer was to use SLS GFN, which provided both high temperature resistance with rigidity.’

A fully functional prototype of the casing was produced in three days, enabling critical performance specifications to be confirmed before injection mould tool for the casing had been finished.

The SLS process uses DTM Sinterstations to build 3D models layer by layer from a diverse range of powder materials including GFN. Cross-sections of the product are created as a CO2 laser selectively heats and fuses a layer of powder to form a cross-section which matches exactly the same part as in the CAD design.

Amsys Rapid Prototyping and Tooling 0191-515 3333