Time is money

When it has to go faster again

If you work in product development you know: Several months or even years could pass before a new product or device is finally put on the market. Saving a few months in developing time can mean great savings in cost and a vital competitive advantage.

The Austrian company starlim//sterner is also working on producing silicone parts fast. It produces technical moldings from silicone and multi-component parts using injection molding. The company joins mold making and manufacturing under one roof. “From order to delivery of our series products, we usually require approximately four to six months. For a faster procedure, we have developed two processes: rapid prototyping and rapid tooling,” affirms Karl Großalber, sales and marketing head of the starlim//sterner group in the Upper Austrian Marchtrenk.

Fast laboratory prototypes or series-like silicone parts

Before a product can be manufactured in series, it must pass various tests and the prototype must be fully functional and defect-free during application. Then the product can be approved for mass production. This is why, for very complex developments, starlim//sterner product developers also produce “dummies” for development tests in addition to simulations. “Dummies” or “laboratory prototypes” are prototypes made 100% by hand in the laboratory. It means that the developed design can be checked very quickly in parts and the first pre-tests can be carried out in development – for very complex parts, rapid prototyping in particular is extremely helpful. The prototypes can be made within 4-5 working days. They are hand-made and therefore limited to a maximum of 20 pieces. The advantage against other parts made by rapid prototyping is that these dummies are made from the material used for the series.

The first series-like LSR parts can be made with the starlim//sterner rapid tooling procedure after only 10 working days. Rapid tooling was developed to be able to provide customers with the first LSR injection molding parts produced under series-like conditions in the quickest time possible. After only 10-20 working days after accepting the order, the customer will receive the first prototype parts.

The difference between prototype samples and rapid tooling parts is that prototype samples are made in the laboratory and rapid tooling parts are produced in a series-like process. The advantage of prototype samples is that they are flexible and cost efficient should the shape of the parts need altering.