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Background Thorn Lighting had reached an advanced stage in the development of one of their ranges of industrial lighting products. For maximum economy of tooling and use of production space, a huge range of SKUs were being created using a “mix and match” selection from a carefully designed and tooled kit of parts. But problems on some parts, which were common to every product in the range, were preventing the whole range being released to the market.

Challenge The terminal box could not be assembled because the upper case would not fit the lower case.

SA were shown the terminal box as a one-piece moulding comprising a lower case, an upper case and a “living hinge” that linked them. We concluded quickly that that the “living hinge” was the source of many of the problems:

  • The geometry of the living hinge was forcing the top and bottom to be miss-aligned as they swung over to meet each other.
  • The function of the living hinge was not compatible with the type of plastic being moulded.
  • The “living hinge” was also interfering with the plastic flow in the mould, causing the parts to be badly distorted.

SolutionSA created a new hinge design that eliminated the living hinge. The upper and lower cases became separate parts, but the hinge action was preserved.

This was a considerable challenge. The new design was carefully created so it was possible to fit the new hinge into the same space in the mould tool that the living hinge had occupied. This meant that Thorn could modify the existing mould tool rather than scrap it.

Deliverables At the time we became involved, the client was looking at a 16-week delay in the launch of the whole lighting range while the parts were re-designed and re-tooled.

Our analysis and re-design took around one week. Modifying the existing tool gave new sample parts a further three weeks after that. So instead of the costly 12 weeks it would have taken to make a new tool from scratch, we delivered a solution in a far shorter time.

Results Thorn were able to see a fast recovery from what seemed like a show-stopping situation.