Laporta Design Limited
Smart window locking systems
Laporta Design Limited, Luton, United Kingdom has been a customer of 3DPRINTUK for just over a year. The company specialises in the manufacture of smart sensors for windows and window locks, and for prototype parts produced by SLS 3D printing it is all about look, feel, and tight tolerance attainment.
Managing Director, Giovanni Laporta says,
“We shifted our 3D print work to 3DPRINTUK after a recommendation from another design agency for a couple of key reasons. The first was cost. We have made a significant cost saving since moving our work, and this means that we now no longer need to be careful about the amount of prototypes we end up making. We can make what we need, not what is cost-effective, and this helps us be innovative and optimise designs quickly. The second was quality. If we had made no cost savings, we would have moved our work to 3DPRINTUK purely on the quality of the 3D printed parts the company produces.”
3DPRINTUK offer SLS 3D printed parts from their range of in-house EOS machines, and also MJF parts from HP. For Laporta Design, the SLS parts hit the mark.
“All our parts are made in white Nylon via the SLS process. While I can see that the MJF process is somewhat cheaper, and the parts feel quite robust, the finish and feel that we achieve on the SLS parts is perfect for our applications. 3DPRINTUK also offer a range of post-processing options, and we find that SLS parts when polished look really really good. In addition to the window locks, many of the parts that we produce prototypes for are tiny sensors and hubs for smart window sensors, so they are consumer focussed and must look and feel high end, and they also need to clip together so attainment of tight tolerances is key. The tolerances achieved by 3DPRINTUK are amazing. They are effectively working to manufacturing tolerances. All this is very important for us, especially as we strive to get as close to the end-use product as possible using the prototyping service,” Laporta continues.
While Laporta Design currently has its parts manufactured in China, the company is keeping an eye on the merits of maybe using 3D printing as a production technology, especially for the more sophisticated and high-end sensor end of the business.
At the moment, we can get relatively cheap soft tooling for our window locks produced in China, which means that we can manufacture in small production runs really economically. It would have to be significantly cheaper for me to switch to window lock production via SLS 3D printing here in the U.K. The idea of domestic manufacturing has some major benefits, however, not least the ability to avoid the vagaries of international supply chains that has been so obvious during the recent pandemic. For the smart sensor part of the business it is extremely attractive to have production here in the UK as that side of the business is not so price sensitive, and obviously UK-based manufacture makes us that much more agile and responsive to our domestic and European marketplaces.
Many companies like Laporta Design are eying up the possibility of using 3D printing as a production technology as well as a prototyping technology, and beyond price considerations, very often the decision is influenced by a degree of inertia as companies stick with what they know until the case for switching is too compelling.
An obvious reason to delay the switch is that for some companies they perceive a steep learning curve and a knowledge gap that needs to be filled before transition to 3D printing can be made. It is here that 3DPRINTUK can help as an expert and experienced 3D printing service provider, as they simplify the use of the technology, something that stands out to Laporta Design.
“I am all about innovation and design. You can clearly see that 3DPRINTUK and the people that work there are very innovative and forward thinking, and it’s all about streamlining and making it as easy as possible for the client. That shouts loud and clear to me. The on-line ordering system and the way they work is quite special. There are few if any downsides, and the sophisticated yet simple to access 3D printing service will surely bring prototyping and production via SLS or MJF to a growing base of businesses,” Laporta concludes.