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Using laser cutting to lower your prototyping cost and production cost

quality laser cutting services

Read about laser cutting for prototyping. We had a case study of a project of our own for laser cutting a prototype. Then creating a laser cut jig for production items. Self-Inking Stamps Ltd. produces custom hand stamps. These are made of three parts, all parts are laser cut or laser engraved to make a final product. However, to make larger rubber stamps a rocker type of stamp would create a better mark on paper, than the flat plate type we had been making. With access to larger ink pads the hunt was on to find a rocker stamp base which would not be priced too high for our customers. However, they were expensive. Probably so expensive our customers would not afford them. So, time to innovate…

Read about laser cutting for prototyping.

A test item needed to be made to test a theory of how an acrylic rocker base for the rubber die could be made. The theory was a particular curve and handle size, and placement could work. Using the laser machine low-cost cardboard was able to be accurately cut. The pieces then glued together and here was a prototype of the size and angles of a product which would be physically checked. This was then passed around the team to check. With discussion and change to the design decided another cheap and easy cardboard prototype was then cut and glued together. Again, checked and all clear was given then that this theory should work.

Laser cut jig or form in this case.

With the theory dealt with the base to the rocker stamp had to be made precisely, every time. The acrylic needed to be heat treated and formed to the exact curve every time. For this the laser cutting machine used the exact vector image designs to cut MDF wood to this exact curve. Many pieces of the exact shape were made, and these laminations glued together to create a form for the bending of the acrylic.

Joiners and cabinet makers have used jigs to create templates to make the same cuts accurately repeatedly in timber to make beautiful furniture and joinery for millennia. Jigs are also used in the printing industry to hold items in just the right position for screen printing, sublimation printing and in more recent times UV printing. A laser cutting machine is perfect for cutting jigs for these purposes.

It is highly accurate. The file can be graphically designed and used to create the jig and then also as the template to lay out the work to be achieved. We use jigs regularly for laser engraving items in the same manner. We can hold items like pens, medals, acrylic and customers products in the exact same position every time and quickly and efficiently process the work. It lowers our labour and production time and making your work more affordable.

These custom-made jigs can save huge amounts of time and labour in product runs for mass produced work. These jigs are used for custom laser engraving a lot. Large numbers of items can be held in place and transferred to the laser bed quickly and removed quickly for the next batch to maximise the efficiency of using the machine. UV printing uses the same principles for mass production printing of custom UV printed items. With the laser machine and our Vision camera system we can then accurately cut out the UV printed items from sheets.

While the upfront cost of design and laser cut jig can be a cost to the production of items that can be spread over many, many products and the labour savings can be immense. You can save a lot of time and money with a well-constructed jig.

Laser cutting products ideal for prototyping.

With the above custom-made jig for the rocker base plate for the stamp made the testing of the heat bend could take place. It is always a bit nerve wracking the first time you create a jig and check whether everything works. The first plate was formed in the jig and removed after cooling. Looking good!

With the base set at a precise curve then the handle was the next part. This had to be cut to the same curve to get full contact on the base plate otherwise it would not weld together and be a break point. Having been graphicly designed the same cut file was able to be used to make the parts precisely. This included four little support blocks all cut to this exact curve for maximum contact and glue welding together.

Custom laser cut products.

These lasers cut components were all able to be assembled, welded, and create the base plate to this new rocker stamp. Everything worked perfectly. The laser cutting just makes everything so easy. It saves a lot of time as there is no further trimming or finishing. It is ready to go every time once the testing is complete. The laser processing part is what is normal for this business of engraving the rubber for this stamp. However, there is a bit of a twist here as with our fast 120W laser machine we can use thicker rubber and engrave it twice to reduce heat stress and deep cut into the rubber to create a rubber die which when curved will not create backing marks.

The power and speed of this machine makes this work still cost effective even though it is engraved twice. With a stamp there is the area which is inked and makes a mark on paper. Behind that is an area or rubber that holds this all together. When curved that base area gets closer to the ink pad and the paper than a flat plate stamp. If there is insufficient depth in the engraving this will also mark the paper and create a very unwanted mark also. Using a thicker rubber and deeper engraving this fault can be avoided.

From prototype to finished product
From prototype to finished product

Talk with us to custom laser cut your products.

Here at Self-Inking Stamps Ltd., we laser cut and engrave products all day long. A laser cut jig can be used for all sorts of applications to lower your business costs. One way we lower business costs is custom made stamps. A stamp is a jig of a manner as it is laser engraved to a particular shape and it can then be used repeatedly to create the same mark reliably for a long time.

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How can we help you lower your development cost or production cost?

If you have a development process for a new product and need some prototype parts cut out from paper, cardboard, some textiles, vegetable tanned leather, acrylic, MDF or plywood we might be able to help. No, we cannot cut steel, stone, or glass. If you are a printer, we can cut out jigs to hold your products in just the right position to accurately print onto them for fast and efficient print runs. By investing in a jig, you can lower your overall labour input and cost per unit of production. If you need help with your ideas get in contact with us at sales@selfinkingstamps.co.nz and tell us your story so we might assess how we could help you.

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