CNC Machining, Injection Moulding and Modern Day Wizards

Christmas has come early on Scala Street this year!

Having spent a considerable amount of time in recent months identifying suppliers that are up to the task of manufacturing the intricate components that will eventually come to make up the inner workings of GL02, Jim and Rob are now enthusiastically palming their way through several rather large boxes of injection moulded sample components.

The difference between these new arrivals and the components that the team have been working with until now lies in the manufacturing process. The GL02 prototypes that have formed the core of our testing regime to date are made up of components manufactured using computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining. 

CNC machining is an incredibly important part of the product design process as it provides design engineers with the opportunity to bring to life their computer aided design (CAD) and test it in real world settings. An example of this real world testing is the accelerated life testing regime that we described in a previous post. 

CNC machining of individual parts is a viable and affordable prototyping option as it does not come with the upfront costs associated with setting up the bespoke steel moulds required for injection moulding. 

However, unlike injection moulding, CNC machining is not feasible for commercially producing GravityLight as it offers no significant economies of scale as production volume grows. An injection mould can churn out parts by the thousand, but setting up the moulds to produce that first part can take weeks or months and cost thousands of pounds. This is why the team needed to be incredibly confident that the components that they have designed work before they give GravityLight’s injection moulding partners the go ahead to do their thing. 

And that brings us back to Jim and Rob’s Christmas presents! Following meticulous testing of the CNC machined GL02 prototypes, the injection moulds for each of GravityLight’s components were commissioned and are now fully operational. This in turn allowed our manufacturing partners to produce the first batch of beautiful, injection moulded, GL02 components. 

This sample batch will be evaluated by Jim and Rob against a stringent set of criteria, ensuring that the injection moulds have produced components that accurately adhere to the dimensions and specifications that are detailed in the CAD. The components will also be put through the same rigorous testing regimes that their CNC machined cousins were subjected to. 

On the subject of the inner workings of GravityLight, we recently welcomed a rather enthusiastic Destin Sandlin to GravityLight HQ.

Destin runs the incredibly informative Smarter Every Day, a project that is dedicated to understanding the world through a scientific lens.

 Destin putting Andy (Development Manager at GravityLight) through his paces. 

Destin putting Andy (Development Manager at GravityLight) through his paces. 

Destin has produced a fantastic video that sheds light on much of the science that brings GravityLight to life. The video does a great job of explaining the inner workings of GravityLight in an informative, yet entertaining way. 

And the comments left on YouTube have been almost as entertaining as the video itself!

Here are a few of our favourites: 

It seems like Jim has made quite the impression on Destin's viewers...

...We like you too, Jim.