We generate machine code from the solid models which allows us to manufacture prototypes that directly reflect the models. Existing customers usually send us the circuit boards and parts, or come down to us with them and then we make up a prototype within an agreed time frame – usually one or two weeks. A few customers, often new ones, like to sit down with us and watch whilst the solid model is being created. This allows them to control how more complex components such as aerials and SIM card holders may be placed. It allows them to agree decisions such as ‘if the SIM card holder goes here, then there will be a milled hole in the side of the extrusion which will cost ten times as much as a punched hole in an end plate’. When this process is finished, the customer knows that he has an optimum solution based on his product requirements and our input on all the manufacturing possibilities and their cost implications. The customer may come to us with a bundle of boards and connectors but he finishes with a completely dimensioned solid model which is his intellectual property.
Whilst he waits, we can tool up and run our 11 tonne CNC punch and manufacture the first plates and we will cut the first extrusions. We can lay print and print the end plates, and we can fit the boards to see the prototype for the first time. Often there will be small adjustments to the connector holes to make sure the gaps are even and the print can be moved to achieve a better balance on the front plate. This is not a short process – it can take a whole day. However, our customer leaves tired but happy. The following day, he can walk into the boardroom for his meeting, put the prototype on the table and get our quotation out of his briefcase. ‘Gentlemen, we can have ten for this price, fifty for this price, or five hundred for this price. Our design partners, Lincoln Binns, are preparing rendered images so we can get the sales literature out by the end of this week.’