Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Personalised Footwear: E2HS - From Elite to High Street

Economical manufacturing solutions to drive changing consumer markets

HSS machine HSS produced Burton parts

Injection moulding is commonly a process of choice for products such as these Burton Snowboard buckle assembly parts.  However, the limitations of such traditional, mould based manufacturing processes are that often only large volumes of identical parts are economical and that once a mould tool has been manufactured, there is little flexibility to alter the final geometry of the part.

A revolutionary option now available to engineers is to instead, adopt 21st century Additive Manufacturing processes which offer the freedoms of tool-less technologies.  This alternative approach to manufacturing naturally fits with changing, fashionable and seasonal markets such as snow sports by offering companies flexibility and choice.  Overall, the ease with which designs can be changed or altered without the need to make long term investments in expensive tooling means that companies could drive market change and remain at the forefront of their industry.

In particular, High Speed Sintering is the perfect manufacturing choice for these buckle parts.  Due to its rack of high quality inkjet print heads which span the build width, each layer, no matter what the cross sectional area is, can be printed and sintered in under 3 seconds.  Combined with the other steps in each layer cycle, HSS currently has a total cycle time of 18 seconds; a figure expected to reduce to 5 seconds with a production ready machine.  The characteristic speed of the HSS process offers the potential for vast reductions in part cost and will therefore enable HSS to compete with injection moulding in low volume applications. 

An example of HSS’s cost effective production has been proven through leading research at Loughborough University in association with Burton Snowboards.  The work found that the Burton Snowboard buckle would cost £0.10 each when using the HSS process, a figure highly competitive with injection moulding even when calculated at the current high material costs of Additive Manufacturing.  Sean Horning, Product Development Engineer at Burton Snowboards found this price astounding and further commented that with the potential for improved cycle times and therefore further reductions to part cost I could see that the benefits for using HSS may far outweigh those for using injection moulding in the near future’.

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