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Bearing Release Tool
This project is a bearing release tool for in-line skate wheels. It’s a hand tool designed to remove bearings effortlessly. The initial design had a several problematic areas that were highlighted during prototyping. After a detailed study design, modification proposals were made to the customer which they embraced. The design changes reduced the number of parts and reduced the unit price of the finished article by 40%. The main components of the hand tool are made from stainless steel using investment casting. The polyurethane handles are made using injection molding. There are several other small components such as: custom screws, rollers and springs. These are made using CNC turning and CNC milling and traditional spring manufacturing.
The customer came to us with an initial design and a crude prototype which was designed and manufactured in the Netherlands. He asked us to make five more prototypes for a show (2015 ISPO in Munich, Germany,) which his company was attending. As with all projects, we had a team meeting and discussed a few ideas. The outcome was a suggestion to introduce a spring to the tool to improve the user experience. The idea was well received by the customer and the changes were made. The result was a great improvement upon the original design, making it a single handed use hand tool rather than two handed use tool. The prototypes were CNC machined from solid billet, and the screws were CNC turned. The handles were vacuum cast polyurethane using a range of five different colours. The prototypes were delivered on time to the satisfaction of the customer.
Decision To Manufacture
Zeleritaz Racing sports took the product to the 2015 ISPO. The product was submitted for an innovation award at the 2015 ISPO, and was awarded a gold medal. The product is a totally new design and it’s very easy to use.It made what was a mundane and dirty chore, a quick clean job. The product was so well received at the show, they decided to make an initial run of 5000 units.
Manufacturing The Production Parts
The tool it self posed a few challenges to manufacture! After a detailed study we decided that the geometry of the part was suited to investment casting. Also, a few small modifications were made to ensure the process could cope with the design. Incidentally, tooling for investment casting is only a fraction of what it would have cost if we had attempted to forge the parts.
Including changing the shape of the PU handle to ensure that the part could be assembled without any glue being visible on any parts. After the changes were approved by the customer we commissioned the investment casting tooling, and within 10 days we had the first samples of the tool. The parts looked good so we cast a small batch. The casting went well, the metal filled the mold and we got parts that were ready for post CNC machining. Machining fixtures were built whilst the casting process was being carried out. By day 15 of the project we had finished the machined parts. A small issue with the material became apparent, so we changed the material to a material with better mechanical properties. By this time the balance of the parts was ready. The CNC turned Screws and rollers were ready so we assembled a batch of 75 parts for testing. The test revealed a minor issue causing the tool to bind slightly, so a tolerance on the post machining was adjusted. The parts were rebuilt and the issue was solved. The first batch of 75 parts were ready by day 32. They were then delivered to the customer for approval. After testing for 7 days the customer approved the parts and the production of a further 5000 units began. 20 days later the balance of the parts was completed and shipped to the customer. The parts have all been well received in the market, and to date we have had no reports of defects. The tool was delivered with a shot blast finish which looks great. As this was a special customer, we provided a limited edition of just 30 parts that were polished with a black PVD coating applied. The customers names were also individually laser etched on their own personalized tool.
The project was picked up by Prototype Finder after the concept had been proved. We helped to develop and improve the design in order to reduce the cost of manufacture and ensure a better function of the tool. We manufactured and the improved the prototypes. We then helped the customer define the process, and completed the manufacturing of the whole project. Total time from start to finish was 52 days.