Protolabs supports the development of an entry phone for the smart phone generation
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London based firm Entryphone has been designing, manufacturing and installing door entry systems since 1958. Now, over 60 years on, son Oliver Ashbee heads this family business. Oliver is passionate about using his decades of experience to develop innovative products that meet the demands of the 21st Century.
Oliver’s latest concept is an entry phone for the smart phone generation. His aim is to create a product that is simple in functionality with an aesthetic that will appeal to architects and developers who are looking for something sleek and stylish for their high-end city-centre dwellings.
Entryphone manufacture many of their own products, utilising a large warehouse at their premises in Wandsworth. However, the company called on Protolabs’ expertise for support in producing the casing for the new entry phone. As Oliver explains:
“The 516v has been a couple of years in the making. After initially getting in touch with Protolabs to produce the 3D printed prototype using their stereolithography (SLA) technology, I was keen to utilise Protolabs again to quickly ramp up production with tooling and moulding for the casing.
“Protolabs’ quoting system, where you can upload CAD models onto their website, really is brilliant. The interface is really easy to use and then it takes a good look at your design and gives you feedback for production. It’s an invaluable tool.”
– Oliver Ashbee, Director, Entryphone
Oliver uploaded his CAD file to Protolabs’ online quoting platform and, whilst the part was manufacturable, the design for manufacture (DFM) analysis software identified a couple of areas where manufacturability improvements could be made.
In response, Protolabs Application Engineer, Charlotte-Anne Smith arranged a call with Oliver and they discussed the advisories that had been flagged up. These included a thickness on one part of the geometry that may have resulted in sink marks as well as thin and zero draft areas. Once identified, Oliver was able to quickly address and eliminate these areas on the final CAD design and thus enhance the part’s mouldability.
After going through the technical elements, Charlotte-Anne advised Oliver on injection moulding tolerances that Protolabs work to. Oliver was clear from the start that he wanted an ABS white as his material, which just left the surface finish to choose. To assist with this, Charlotte-Anne arranged for a sample plaque of the different finishes that can be achieved on Protolabs’ stocked materials. Oliver subsequently chose SPI-A2, the highest polish finish.
Protolabs’ quote included a gate and ejector layout. Charlotte-Anne and Oliver had a few discussions about the gate layout because of the high polish finish on the outside of the part. The original gate layout was located on the area of high polish finish, which would leave a gate scar Charlotte-Anne was able to compose a gating option in a different location that would not affect the cosmetic appearance of the part.
“It was good working with Oliver as although his design was manufacturable from the outset, he had the flexibility to tweak and refine his design for the injection moulding process. It’s satisfying to have those conversations upfront with a client about the draft, the gate and the ejector layout, and see how the suggested changes are implemented into a design that makes for an even better part – one that the client is really happy with. It gives me great job satisfaction,” explained Application Engineer Charlotte-Anne Smith.
A third and final iteration was uploaded and a simple, single cavity, standard open shut mould – with just a core and the cavity – was swiftly made. From this tool, Protolabs was able to rapidly produce a sample production batch of 50 cases. All this within just 15 days.
“The turnaround that Protolabs offers – on the quotation, the tooling and the moulding – is really appealing. Protolabs are great because not only can you get a sample or production run turned around quickly, you get their expertise and support as well. The DFM report comes back swiftly and the Application Engineers are excellent. Protolabs do this so much better than anyone else out there.”
“The speed of the tooling was pretty key to all this because when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go,” explained Oliver. “We had challenges our end with the circuit boards and getting the audio right on this product, so once we nailed that, we just wanted to get going. We didn’t want to be sat around for weeks twiddling our thumbs, so getting samples back in 15 days is a wonderful thing. We are raring to go and keen to get this product out into the market place.”
The finished 516v entry phone measures approximately 20cm tall and 8cm wide and will be wall mounted. The white ABS case produced by Protolabs supports a glass screen. When answering the door, a colour image of the person at the door can be seen and the user has 6 touchscreen icons to choose from, including unlock door, mute, switch views between cameras and to ring the porter for those living in apartments with a concierge service.
“I’m really pleased with the product and Protolabs have been great as far as I’m concerned. Their service has made my life easy, and that’s very important. I will certainly be using them again. Very few people do what they do as well as they do. They occupy that space in the market very well. When it comes to tool making, there are very few people that are very good at it, but they make it easy.”
Oliver will be soft launching the new 516v entry phone soon, with a full production run from Protolabs in the new year. And always looking to innovate, he’s already working on a new product that will be revealed next year.
Entryphone is a family business formed in the late 1950s as a designer, manufacturer and installer of door entry systems. The last 60 years has seen a great deal of innovation in this area and Entryphone has been at the forefront of this advancement.