Recently, I was asked “what I did for work”. Since I was on the golf course at the time (and was more interested in collecting myself after a terrible hole), I gave a simple reply, “I work for a custom plastics fabricator in White Bear Lake.” Most of the time that reply leads me to ask what they did. In this scenario, before I could even ask they said, “I’m work in manufacturing too – designing medical devices”. Obviously, it would be to both of our advantages if I explain a little more about our specialty at Envision Plastics – our No Molds Required Technology (NMR). Sometimes where NMR fits in comes to mind naturally – hopefully it will for my golf buddy next time. Other times though, designers might not think about NMR for their new application because of what their typical go-to’s are. The following is a little reminder – on introduction – as the where the NMR fabrication process finds its niche.
First off, NMR finds itself in the “low volume production” market. Yes, this could include prototypes, but those usually lead to production of some type. High volume production (10,000 EAU) is best off with injection molding; whereas lower requirement volumes may be best utilized with the No Molds Required Technology. So what markets use this volume sweet spot? Well, the medical device market is surely a great candidate. No, we are not talking implantables, but tabletop machines, portable devices, and possibly even part components in large cabinets, carts, or even MRI machines. The volume sold to hospitals by medical device manufactures fits this volume level very well. Envision Plastics has served dozens of customers in this market such as Boston Scientific, St. Jude Medical, Medtronic, and GE Healthcare using the NMR Technology.
Another lower volume area of development is with the entrepreneur who has “this new idea”. More specifically, they need an enclosure for their idea or as a component of their idea. They could go to an off-the-shelf branded box, but at times these are not very well customizable or possibly available in the look, feel, size, and shape they want. This brings them to NMR Technology for their custom plastic electronic enclosure needs. Their requirement at first may be just one to test their product’s “guts”. The second requirement in their product's life-cycle is market testing – or possibly UL or FDA testing. The third requirement may be to get their product in the hands of their distributors or better yet, their first customers. This is a great value NMR adds to the product design flow. A 3D printed part may work for testing the “guts”, but to go to official testing with this 3D printed version would not be acceptable - nor would production parts for their customers. Envision's NMR capabilities can help this entrepreneur or start-up company get their product to market faster and more economical than any other process which fabricates custom plastic enclosures.
The two examples described above are surely on different ends of the spectrum in scope. However, they overlap. There are many other markets which overlap as telecommunications, industrial controls, automotive, computers, aerospace, and even military. So, the next time you have a need for a plastic bezel, custom plastic enclosure, or some kind of plastic panel, keep NMR in mind…you may just be its next user!