We Do: Prototyping
We pride ourselves in our established prototyping capabilities. The quality of our prototypes is unmatched. As we are able to perform a wide range of prototyping processes in-house, we are able to prototype freely and effectively. Our prototyping and manufacturing staff have many years of experience and a wealth of skills.
When prototyping there are numerous ways of achieving a desired result. Here we use a combination of in-house prototyping techniques in various materials to build and generate models to a stage where they can be passed on to our finishing facility.
Clients often have varying requirements for their models. Some may choose to only have a solid block model thus only require a form and ergonomic feedback from the model. Others may choose to have a model that represents colours and finishes as well. There are also those who would like to have all the above and have it functioning electronically and mechanically. The ultimate purpose of the model or prototype has a highly influential role in the choice of material and manufacturing processes we use.
We make use of the Eden 350V machine for 3D printing prototypes. It is designed to provide high-quality, 3-dimensional models quickly and conveniently throughout the CAD/CAM process. Printed parts can be used in a wide variety of industries including automotive, consumer products, toys, electronics, sporting goods, medical, education and industrial fields.
Our machining includes four axis CNC milling and turning. The high quality machining we achieve is mainly due to experience and meticulous attention to detail. We currently use Master Cam as our machining software. The parts we have machined in the past vary in complexity and intricacy; these include parts for miniature turbines, components for large and small machines in highly varied industries, automotive components and gears. Our machining capabilities also include a magnitude of materials from metals, such as steels and titanium, to plastics such as acetal.
The key to our quality prototyping capabilities lies in the input of our experienced and highly skilled model makers. We also have a well-equipped finishing facility which includes full spray room, sandblasting, and general workshop equipment. We use a variety of techniques to achieve our client’s desired results. Finishes such as highly polished lenses, highly polished plastics surfaces, and sparked plastic surfaces can be achieved mainly due to our skilled hands and close attention to detail.
Product graphics and display graphics can be simulated and incorporated into the finishing of parts. Here we use a combination of transfers and photo quality prints to achieve a high quality representation.
Skeg has one of the only in-house vacuum casting facilities in South Africa. This includes a vacuum casting machine, ovens, UV curing area and measuring equipment. With vacuum casting we can generate highly accurate duplicates of a part. The processes and materials used in vacuum casting enable us to do relevant testing on the parts and produce complex prototypes such as rubber over-moulded parts and metal inserts into plastic casings.
Typically the parts can be used for market research, mechanical testing and assembly testing. Many of our clients use the cast parts to sell their product and orders are placed based on the prototypes they present. We use a range of resins, rubbers, waxes and pigments to achieve physical properties similar to end production materials.
Over the last few years we have introduced composites to the list of manufacturing disciplines we offer. Our diverse machining capabilities give us the ability to manufacture very accurate moulds that require less finishing. We make use of both traditional hand/wet lay-up and vacuum infusion to produce epoxy or vinyl ester parts. We normally supply our parts with a paint finish, but gel coat finishes are also possible. Composite parts made in the past have been utilized in many industries; from marine to advertising applications.
Vacuum infusion is a process whereby the binder resin is introduced into a mould after a vacuum has pulled the bag down and compacted the dry reinforcing and core laminate materials. The method is defined as having lower than atmospheric pressure in the mould cavity. The mould may be gel coated in the traditional fashion. After the gel coat cures, the dry reinforcement and core material is positioned in the mould. A perforated release film is placed over the dry reinforcement and core, followed by a flow media consisting of a coarse mesh. Perforated tubing is positioned as a manifold to distribute the binding resin across the laminate. The vacuum bag is then positioned and sealed at the mould perimeter. A tube is connected between the vacuum bag and the resin container. Vacuum is applied to consolidate the laminate and the resin is pulled into the mould. When the resin is pulled the laminate is already compacted; therefore, there is no room for excess resin.
The process described above is much cleaner and results in stronger, lighter parts than what you would get through a hand lay-up process.