Point-of-Sale Pet Store Kiosks Utilize Innovative Polymers Materials
- Category: Case Histories
The difference between functional prototypes and end parts continues to shrink as the performance capabilities of polyurethanes improve and casting methods advance. As a result, manufacturers today are bringing new products to market faster than ever before without investing in machined injection molds for building thermoplastic parts.
Optimizing the ability to save time and cut costs involved in plastic part production, Industrial Modern Pattern & Mold, Chicago, Illinois, is building hundreds of point-of-sale kiosks using polyurethane cast in silicone rubber molds. The computerized kiosks are installed at pet stores and mass merchandisers for consumers to use to engrave pet identity tags. Industrial Modern utilizes a new-generation polyurethane for the multi-part equipment housing. Supplied by Innovative Polymers, Saint Johns, Michigan, RapidVac VA-259 polyurethane combines the handling, processing and cured performance needed for the challenging application.
According to Jared Megleo, president of Industrial Modern Pattern & Mold, “To mold the 11-piece kiosks, we need a material that has a gel time long enough to shoot the large parts and a fast demold time to support timely part production. In addition, because kiosks house computer and engraving equipment, polyurethane components must be UL 94 V-O flame retardant with high strength and excellent dimensional stability and long- term durability.”
The Innovative Polymers high-performance polyurethane has proved to be the ideal solution for the project. Using the material, Industrial Modern shipped its first completed kiosks to the customer less than seven weeks after the project started. To date, demand for the kiosks is growing and contributing to soaring sales of pet ID tags.
A leading manufacturer of pet tag engraving machines, The Hillman Group, Cincinnati, Ohio, selected ATOMdesign, Phoenix, Arizona, to upgrade the user friendliness of its equipment. The result of this design program was a hi-tech dog persona known as fi.d.o which was incorporated into a computerized engraving machine. Each fi.d.o kiosk includes speakers for ears, a face that’s a talking LCD screen, ears that house speakers for the unit and a see-through “belly” that contains a “magical” device which engraves aluminum ID tags.
ATOMdesign turned to Industrial Modern Pattern & Mold to bring the fi.d.o design to reality. The two companies have worked together for over five years on a variety of product development programs. Industrial Modern is well suited as a partner for the Phoenix design firm with more than 40 years in operation. Family owned and operated for three-generations, the company is recognized as a pioneer and leader in the prototyping and rapid part production market.
Casting the Kiosks
Industrial Modern worked from CAD data to produce three-dimensional SLA models of each section of the kiosk. The largest component, which includes the front door of the engraving unit, measures 41 inches long x 20 inches wide and 10 tall with a wall thickness of 1⁄4 inch. The smallest parts are the 13 inches long x 4 inches wide x 1⁄4 inch- thick speaker “ears” and the 18.800 inch x 17.335 inch computer screen bezel.
Molds were cast over the SL models using GI 1040 silicone rubber. The high tear strength material provides for easy demolding of the parts that included numerous molded ribs and bosses and cast-in-place brass mounting inserts.
Industrial Modern injects degassed RapidVac VA 259 polyurethane into released silicone rubber molds using automated dispensing equipment equipped with a 16-inch long static mixing nozzle to ensure complete blending of resin and hardener. Medium and small parts such as the front bezel and speaker “ears” are cast under vacuum. For larger components, the polyurethane is simply dispensed into the tools until material flows from the vents indicating complete molding filling.
Megleo explains, “To mold the large front panel for the kiosk, we shoot 16 lbs. of polyurethane into the mold. The process takes about five minutes and the Innovative Polymers VA-259 polyurethane has a 7 – 8 minute gel time that was more than enough to accommodate the process. At the same time, the material can be demolded in less than three hours.” Industrial Modern produces three sets of kiosk components in one day.
In addition to handling and processing ease, the RapidVac polyurethane exhibits the low shrinkage (0.002 – 0.005 in./in.) needed to ensure precise joining of multiple parts to steel side panels.
“VA-259 polyurethane produces dimensionally precise parts so that component seam lines meet every time. Our molds are ‘right on’ and the low-shrink material is accurate even when cast in mass,” Megleo says.
The physical properties of VA-259 polyurethane are also well suited for the kiosk project. The material is easy to process without producing excessive wear on the molds. The Shore 85D product features a tensile strength of 7,000 psi, flexural modulus of 360,000, notched Izod impact strength of 0.9 ft-lb/in and heat deflection temperature of 149oF (65oC).
Once cured, each component is coated with a textured paint and assembled with steel side panels.