Industrial design : rapid tooling for small and medium sized enterprises

Abstract: This licentiate thesis combines three different topics, the small business environment, industrial design and rapid tooling. Smaller companies often suffer from lack of resources in many ways and since most theoretical product development methods are formulated for larger companies, this is a problem. The possibility to design and give their products the desired form is therefore difficult. Rapid tooling is a new way of producing forming tools that cut the cost and lead time compared to conventional tooling methods. The aim of this thesis is to investigate and clarify if Rapid tooling is a solution to the problem of using forming tools in smaller companies. These tools can be used both as early prototype tools to verify a design and make a basis for decision of acquiring conventional tools for long production series, and as production tools for shorter production series. Paper A explains the initial problem formulation and the combining of the three topics. Also a small case study is included to help clarifying the aim to find a way for smaller companies to use forming tools that are adapted to their specific situation. Paper B focuses on the implementation of Rapid Tooling methods in smaller companies and whether to make the tools in-house with an own RT-machine, or buy the service externally from a service provider. Paper C deals with the question of how to choose the right RT-method for your specific situation. Each RT-method has its own advantages as well as disadvantages and are more suited for certain types of applications. It is therefore important to choose the right RT-method that is best for your product and what kind of tool you need. The thesis is concluded with plans for further research.

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