AK Industries Ltd is a plastic injection moulding company specialising in innovative product development based in Hereford. Its new Product Realisation and Optimisation Process offers customers a programme of services including project management, design, rapid prototyping and toolmaking services, in addition to injection moulding production.
A K Industries Ltd (AKI) had a customer project that they were working on to develop a multi part assembly for the dental industry. One of the components needed to be moulded in medical grade material for initial trial. AKI did not have the exact dimensions and the material grade required to develop the tooling for the product moulding but yet wanted to commence the trials. They met with the WMG SME group to discover if there was a solution to undertake some testing without having to invest lots of money in tooling that might have to be changed once the material grade and dimensions were specified.
WMG’s Dr Ben Wood suggested to AKI that they could make some tooling for the assembly using Additive Layer Manufacturing (3D Printing) that would significantly reduce both the time and cost for initial trials. He provided assistance to AKI including a CAD design of the 3D printed injection moulding tool, the manufacture of three sets of inserts for initial mould trails and then went on to test the mould tools on an Engel e-Victory 140T moulding press.
The benefit from this project was that we removed a lot of risk out of the product development process. Had this assistance from the WMG SME Group not been available, we would have cut the steel tools with more risk and the potential of having to modify this tooling at a cost of up to £10,000
Joe Reynolds, Operations Manager, AK Industries Ltd
The project was successful and allowed AKI to undertake the trials on the product that were needed. The biggest advantage that this project had was the confidence and design justification that was provided to AKI without having to start with prototype steel tooling. Without support, the project would take 8-12 weeks longer to achieve and potentially cost AKI a significant amount of money if tooling designs needed to be changed. The product will be manufactured in the UK, and AKI will be able to support existing jobs and potentially expand the business.