3D printing is the process of building parts from a CAD file, and rapid prototyping is the end result. Rapid prototyping uses 3D printing to fabricate a scaled model of the part. Both 3D printing and rapid prototyping are core skill sets at iCONN. Rapid prototyping allows our engineers to design parts quickly and put them in the customer’s hand. It also allows us to create a temporary tool that can be used to produce 50-100 pcs using the same materials the customer will use during regular production.
Having a finished product in 1-2 weeks gets your project in production more quickly, helping you further your bottom line with fewer errors and higher quality. Using rapid prototyping enables us to enhance design attributes early in the process. Innovate your products by using rapid prototyping to help your team stay on track and meet deadlines.
iCONN was approached by an LED lighting company to connectorize a power distribution system for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. They needed a low-cost solution to modularize a power distribution system to fit in various cabinet sizes. The company would plug their lights into the system designed by iCONN, and the lights would be located in the cabinets. The connectors inside the cabinets needed to be concealed for aesthetics purpose as well. The final product would make a cabinet light up when opened, or shine light on countertops.
The product went through many design iterations, starting with 3D printing several components and putting them together. The product was put in application (via focus groups and the production process) to determine how well the components worked together and resulted in some design changes. Identifying these changes through rapid prototyping, modifications were made and tested within hours, which ultimately took months off the entire development process.
From there, the product went into the soft tooling phase, 3D printing mold cavities and machining mold cavities out of aluminum to mold the plastic used in production.This method allowed us to provide the product to UL for UL Listing.
Rapid Prototyping of the iCONN design solution allowed the part to be qualified without waiting months for production tooling. The application had 27 distinct parts that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and six to eight months!
Finally, the product was tooled up for production. Having gone through the rapid prototyping process, both iCONN and the client went into the tooling phase with a high level of confidence in the functionality. This eliminated expensive changes to the product once it was tooled out of steel.
iCONN’s customers benefit from the company’s rapid prototyping process when they need something produced quickly while staying within budget constraints. iCONN’s competitive pricing, high-end technology and engineering expertise help make the manufacturing process smoother. iCONN continues to creatively leverage 3D printing to produce low-volume tooling, and actual connector concepts.