Technology alongside craftsmanship leads the way in helping UK businesses to speed up. The spotlight on productivity in UK manufacturing is increasingly focusing on digital, such as computer-aided processes, alongside traditional practices to not only ensure maximum quality but also provide speed, precision and flexibility. In uncertain times, when industry is sometimes at the mercy of commercial and political fallout, getting products to market on time is the one thing businesses can take control of.
With the publication of the Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 comes the revelation that some businesses are unaware of just how much benefit moving to a more digitally inclusive approach can provide; in fact, over 50 per cent of the respondents had no plans to do so.
Speeding up processes such as silicone moulding is a key example of where major gains can be made. Creating complex moulds has traditionally involved a fairly labour intensive approach using the experience and skills of the operator. The problem with this method is that it is slower and, as time is money, often more expensive.
A brave new world
Enter the future. Optimisation designed to produce the best mould designs using 3D-printed templates in the form of rigid moulds has taken the process to the next level. Major improvements in finished design and production speed and a right-first-time approach have all been achieved using these latest developments.
Introducing the metamould
Specialists such as https://www.meadex.co.uk/materials/silicone/#moulding provide a good example of the latest and more rapid and precise approach to silicone moulding that fuses traditional manufacturing expertise with digital automation. The use of templates known as metamoulds can now be printed in 3D to ensure ease and quality of manufacture. Even the smallest, most refined sections of silicone can be removed quickly and damage-free from the moulds. The other benefit here is that all liquid silicone-filled metamoulds can be used – and reused – to manufacture exact replicas, even down to the most intricate designs.
Taking a look around the room you are currently in will confirm the importance of traditional craftsmanship and technology coming together. Most of the objects you can see are almost certainly a result of this approach.
With the next generation of rapid moulding processes already available and the need to stay ahead of global competition, UK businesses need to act fast.