Case Studies: Deadline-Driven Laser Scanning
TaylorMade (Carlsbad, CA), a golf club manufacturer, needed to update its display system. The display system had to be overhauled quickly so it would be ready for a national sales campaign, which was to be launched in conjunction with a sales meeting and industry show.
One component in particular that needed modification was an injection-molded golf club holder clip. To accomplish this, the company contacted Peter Weisel, vice president of Anaheim, CA-based Craftech, a custom plastic injection molding company. Craftech was given eight weeks to update the design of the holder and produce production injection-mold tooling. Because the project had an abbreviated timeline and needed two iterations to create the correct fit, quick turnaround was imperative.
The complex molded plastic part for the golf club holder was needed for displaying a new line of drivers. The new part was similar to a previous one, but with some modifications. The holder would have to accommodate the new clubs, while still working for the older woods and irons. The multifaceted project required a four-cavity mold and had complicated, irregular geometry.
The complete golf club display system was being made by a sheet metal supplier in Huntington Beach, CA, who sent the original part to Craftech, with a description of the necessary modifications. Craftech sculpted a mock-up with modeling clay to design the shape of the new part. At this point, they needed to rapidly produce a prototype to test if the part would function correctly before manufacturing more than 200,000 copies.
Meeting the DeadlineCraftech had used 3-D laser scanning provided by Laser Design (Minneapolis) a number of years back. When Weisel was looking for a speedy solution, he mentioned the project to another colleague, who had recently used Plymouth, MI-based GKS Inspection Services, a division of Laser Design, for part verification.
Weisel contacted General Manager Larry Carlberg of GKS, and the hand-made clay model of the club holder was sent to the company; it was to be scanned to create a modified database for the part. “The trick was to identify this new hand-made shape so the revisions could be made in the injection molding,” Carlberg explains. Laser scanning with the RPS 450 probe and the part mounted to a rotary stage was an ideal method to capture this unusual shape. The RPS 450 probe allowed sufficient accuracy and depth of field to capture all the changes made to the clay-modified club holder with minimal scan time.
Because the laser scanning system projects a line of laser light onto surfaces while cameras continuously triangulate the changing distance and profile of the laser line as it sweeps along, the problems of missing data on an irregularly shaped or hollowed out surface is eliminated. The system measures fine details and captures complex freeform geometry so the object can be exactly replicated.
Using a noncontact scanning method for this project was crucial because the model was made of pliable modeling clay and anything touching the surface would alter the shape. Laser scanners quickly measure articles, picking up tens of thousands of points per second, generating large numbers of data points without the need for templates or fixtures.
After the part was scanned, Weisel wanted to import the model into Craftech’s CAD design software, Pro/Engineer, so they could make the necessary tooling changes for designing their mold.
“A good first step to verify that the new design had correct modifications is to make a prototype model of the holder and test the results with actual clubs,” says Carlberg. “Since we were able to export Pro/Engineer files in the native file extension .prt, the customer was able to quickly export STL prototype files for making the test prototypes.” The prototype models verified that the new design was correct and Craftech proceeded knowing that the new parts would work the same way.
To accommodate the high output that was required in a short amount of time, GKS was able to quote, scan, model and deliver the .prt files in less than one week. The following week saw the first iteration of the prototype. Craftech performed some minor revisions to the prototype to perfect the final model, and one week later, GKS created the final scan data.
“Engineers familiar with the molding business would agree that a two-week span from initial contact to completed and approved models is an extraordinary pace,” says Carlberg.
With GKS’s laser scanning technology, Craftech was able to complete the high-risk job of creating 200,000 parts-from concept to completion-in a 12-week timeframe. The final CAD model derived from scan data was sent to an Asian tool partner and the four-cavity mold was subsequently constructed. With a 24/7-production schedule, the large run was completed in time for the national launch and show. “Usually a product development lifecycle of this sort can take several months to complete,” notes Weisel. “GKS helped us do it in just over four weeks from start to production.”
GKS Inspection Services, a division of Laser Design Inc.
- With GKS’s laser scanning technology, Craftech was able to complete the job of creating 200,000 parts-from concept to completion-in a 12-week timeframe.
- GKS was able to quote, scan, model and deliver the .prt files in less than one week.
- The noncontact nature of laser scanning accommodated the requirements of a pliable model.