Putting the ‘zip’ in ‘fastener’

Posted on 20 Dec 2017 and read 454 times
Putting the ‘zip’ in ‘fastener’YKK Europe Ltd (www.ykkeurope.com), a global zip and fastener maker, has invested in a Stratasys Objet 350 Connex3 3-D printer to speed up its prototyping.

Supplied by Derbyshire-based Stratasys partner SYS Systems, this machine uses PolyJet technology to produce die-block inserts for YKK’s injection mould tools in just one or two hours; the process previously took a week or more in the company’s busy machine shop.

Mark Davies at YKK said: “We are seeing ever greater diversification in consumer needs and shorter product cycles, which means we must work even harder to speed up product development and reduce costs.

“We picked PolyJet technology due to the potential to have up to 100 materials, including blends and colours, available on the tray at any one time.

“During prototyping, we no longer have to machine four or five inserts out of metal, as we work through various iterations.

“We can simply make our design modifications and start another 3-D print. The amount of time this saves during product development is significant, to say the least.”

While YKK is best known for its zipper solutions, it produces a full range of fasteners, including hook-and-loop tapes, plastic buckles, snaps, buttons and more.

At its UK R&D centre, it also 3-D prints oversize zipper teeth and slider mechanisms to help confirm the initial design concepts, before transitioning to actual-size prototyping using injection moulding.

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