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Machined plastic parts can be delivered in 24 hours

27 September, 2012

The polymer specialist igus has launched a service that machines and delivers custom-designed plastic components in as little as 24 hours. There are no minimum order quantities for the service, called speedicut, making it a cost-effective way of specifying one-offs, prototypes and low-volume components.

To use the service, engineers simply email igus a 2D or 3D CAD file, or upload it via igus’ Web site, and specify a material and physical requirements, such as temperature or chemical resistance. Within 24 hours, igus will send a quote. If accepted, the parts are machined on lead times from one to 10 days for 100 pieces.

When a 2D drawing is submitted, the service uses the tolerances quoted on the drawing. If a 3D model is submitted, the expected tolerance is ±(0.1+0.005mm/mm). For example, a length of 10mm would have a tolerance of ±0.15mm.

The cost of the service depends on the part and the material chosen, but can be as low as £1.50 per item. There is no tooling set-up cost, making it economical for low-volume manufacturing.

According to igus director Matthew Aldridge, the new service complements the existing speedigus rapid tooling system, and is aimed at parts that are more suitable for machining than moulding. “For very low quantities, it makes economic sense to machine parts in preference to moulding,” he says, “and using our standard igus stock bar materials, along with a hi-tech machining cell, custom-designed complex parts can be produced very quickly.”

Often, the materials used for rapid prototyping have been developed for ease of manufacture, rather than for long life. However, the speedicut service uses materials such as igus’ iglidur tribological polymers, which are designed for long life and durability. The maintenance- and lubricant-free materials have a low coefficient of friction and are said to deliver reliable performance over long service lives. Programs are available to calculate the materials’ useful lives.

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