To develop and manufacture prototype and production components for a miniaturised version of the Bebionic prosthetic hand.
Some time ago, prosthetic experts, Steeper, approached RP Technologies and asked us to manufacture a myoelectric prosthetic hand.
This prosthetic hand would transform the lives of amputees around the world, helping them to regain independence and control of their everyday lives.
The Bebionic hand is modelled on an accurate skeletal structure. It is also constructed from a range of components which have been designed to provide the most true-to-life movements.
The hand marks a turning point in the world of prosthetics, as it perfectly mimics the functions of a real hand via 14 different precision grips. These grips enable amputees to engage in a range of activities that would have previously been unmanageable.
Following the success of the Bebionic hand, Steeper began to develop a miniaturised version, which was known, quite simply, as the Bebionic Small.
Steeper needed a manufacturer who could turn around complex parts without compromising quality. They also wanted to find a company who could manufacture aluminium tooling and injection moulded components under one roof – a one-stop, single source solution, so that they didn’t have the hassle and cost of sourcing multiple suppliers.
That’s when Steeper approached RP Technologies.
The challenge was to help solve the many technical challenges that accompanied the process of miniaturising these components for the purposes of plastic injection moulding.
With the miniaturisation of the original components, Steeper and RP Technologies had to review the wall thickness of all 9 parts to ensure that the components were suitable for injection moulding.
One of the main concerns with the thin wall sections was the flow length over the larger components.
The decision was taken that TPE should be overmoulded to an ABS substrate.
The problem arose because the TPE was so thin it didn’t carry adequate heat to form the chemical bond between the ABS and the overmoulding.
After considerable planning and development, the engineers at RP offered a solution which met Steeper’s specifications without compromising the component design.
The required modifications were made to the aluminium tooling and new samples were manufactured for approval.
RP manufactured and supplied Steeper with a number of components for testing and development.
Once Steeper had approved the prototype components, the design was signed off and Steeper placed an order for over 500 production parts for all 9 components.
Despite the many challenges posed by this very complex component and its design, we partnered with Steeper to ensure that high quality, repeatable mouldings were achieved in a short space of time, with every deadline being met along the way.
If one project showed why RP Technologies is both ‘Without Limits’ and ‘Partners Not Suppliers,’ this was it.
We problem solved and innovated throughout.
Our CAD designers, quality engineers, toolmakers, and plastic injection moulding specialists each contributed many creative solutions to a series of complex manufacturing problems.
Ted Varley, Technical Director at Steeper, said:
“RP Technologies have been a vital part of the development process for the Bebionic small.
Their fantastic communication, flexibility, and technical solutions have meant that we’ve been able to produce an array of small intricate components that other plastic injection moulding companies would have had difficulty manufacturing.”
Darren Withers, Director at RP Technologies, added:
“It’s been great to work with Ted and the team at Steeper, and to provide components for such a life changing product.
We’ve really enjoyed the technical challenges which this particular project has posed.
Our ‘Without Limits’ philosophy has meant we’ve been able to supply complex, high quality components on time and which fit the customer specification.
It also pleases us that we’ve had the opportunity to manufacture a medical product which will be of so much benefit to so many people across the world.”
RP Technologies was approached by Airhead and product design agency, Realise Product Design, to produce a new-to-market anti-pollution mask for cyclists.
Elliot, Harry, and Alex met whilst studying Economics at the University of Bath. Following graduation, they moved to London. As keen cyclists, they soon got fed up with cycling around the city and breathing in polluted air. So they decided to do something about it.
They commissioned Bristol product design agency, Realist Product Design, to create a design for a revolutionary anti-pollution mask. The intention was to create a mask which could be worn by cyclists, and which would prevent them from inhaling smoke, dust, and pollen.
Realise Product Design were looking for an aluminium tooling and plastic injection moulding company in the UK who specialised in manufacturing complex product designs.
They were also looking for a rapid and reliable manufacturing partner who could produce a high quality device within a short lead time.
Being ‘Without Limits’, and specialising in fast turnarounds of high quality, complex devices and components, it wasn’t long before Realise got in touch with RP Technologies.
The project was a complicated one.
With mask designs, no glue or solvent can be used. Each of the parts clip together instead. This meant that the accuracy of RP’s toolmaking and plastic injection moulding was vital.
As environmentally conscious people, Elliot, Harry, and Alex were keen to manufacture a mask that was completely sustainable and easy to recycle.
They also wanted to create something which would have an extended lifespan – something that was built to last. They wanted the component parts to be easily replaceable over time.
In addition to this, Airhead also wanted to produce a mask with a completely modular design, so that it could be quickly taken apart by its user and cleaned thoroughly and easily.
There were 7 different moulded parts that make up the main body of the Airhead mask. These were a combination of POM, polypropylene and TPE, depending on whether a rigid structure was needed or a soft seal to create an airtight seal against the face.
Airhead wanted a mask that was fashionable, so RP had to ensure that whatever was created was aesthetically impressive.
Each of the components that were tooled and moulded had their difficulties.
A close collaboration between RP and Realise Product Design during the tool design process ensured that high quality, repeatable mouldings were achieved in a short space of time, with every deadline being met along the way.
There were three main plastic injection moulded parts to the mask: the Front Cup, the Opening/Filter Seal, and the Nose Cup/Facial Seal. Each of these parts brought with them some very unique manufacturing challenges.
RP needed to problem solve and innovate throughout. Our CAD design team, quality engineers, toolmakers, and plastic injection moulding specialists each had to contribute ideas to find creative solutions to a series of complex manufacturing problems.
Once testing and development of the mask had been completed, Airhead were delighted with the results.
The mask was produced to incredibly tight tolerances, with some very complex tooling and plastic injection moulding processes.
We ran a low volume production run, in which we manufactured 8,500 units. This was enough to fulfil the orders which Airhead had already secured prior to manufacture.
Alex Smith, co-founder of Airhead, said: “As a start-up business, time and budget were incredibly important in successfully delivering the project.
For us, RP being based in the UK and making tools in-house was a huge advantage.
Communication was always quick and clear and there were no delays in transportation. The team clearly has a huge amount of experience in the creation of high quality products.
It’s our first time ever creating a product and I don’t think we could have been in better hands.
The team genuinely care about creating the best product and that’s a rare trait. They also went the extra mile in creating samples as quickly as possible.
They fully supported us with our tight timelines.”
For more information on this project, please visit our Knowledge Hub.
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