Next Generation Product Development Tools, Part 3

At this stage I just wanted to post a reminder of just how amazingly basic much of today’s manufacturing technology really is. To that end I surfed around for some visual media to help illustrate my point.

Where Fabrication Has Been And Where It Still Is

The above video does a decent job providing an overview of the injection mold-based manufacturing process currently used in China (reinforced by this short piece on Design News – Link) and is pretty much the standard solution for fabricating a substantial amount of product worldwide.

If it’s plastic, it was almost certainly formed by one of a few mold-based techniques like the one being presented in that video.

For comparison, the image below is a pre-Inca pottery mold that is essentially the same thing: two halves that when joined together create an enclosed volume wherein material can be poured (or “injected”).

The same kinds of molds were used to cast bronze thousands of years ago (but I couldn’t find as nice a picture as this one).

It’s difficult to believe that whole economies are built around this basic solution to making multiples of an object. When economists speak of “manufacturing infrastructure”, machines which clamp parts of a mold together are a significant part of that infrastructure.

That’s right. Big, hydraulic clamps.

You’d almost think we were stuck in the 19th Century.

{Image Copyright © Dr. Clark J. Radcliffe, Michigan State University}

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