Rapid prototypes for bent wire forms, assemblies
With prototype quantities of 10-200 in increasing demand, the use of traditional metal jigs featuring go/no-go checks is often prohibitive as they can take four to six weeks to design and manufacture, with costs as high as GBP3,000.
While simple 2D wire forms can often be checked visually against a printed CAD drawing, the industry has long sought a way of effectively checking 3D bent wire forms and assemblies without the lead times and costs associated with conventional metal fixtures.
To meet these needs, William Hughes is using specially designed and manufactured MDF gauges.
These can typically be produced in a matter of days and cost around a tenth of the figure - GBP300 - commanded by their metal counterparts.
With CAD/CAM capability available at William Hughes in the form of CATIA V5 R19, customers requiring rapid prototypes need only send a CAD file of the wire product or assembly, from which a suitable MDF jig can be designed and machined.
Emma Burgon, design director at William Hughes, said: 'We recently had a customer who wanted a small number of prototypes so he could build some sample assemblies for his client.
'His client, however, was somewhat tardy in producing the purchase order.
'Regardless of this, we worked concurrently so that the prototypes were ready in less than seven days, by which time our customer had received his order and was able to place a PO with William Hughes.
'Had we waited for the paperwork, a whole week would have been lost, which could have compromised the whole project,' she added.
William Hughes has also developed a technique to weld spring steel wire without the resulting brittleness associated typically with this process.
The joining technique is being used to create welded and annealed spring steel wire frames for assembly at a major UK car plant.