Telesensory Corp.'s Vtek Division had to overcome a range of subtle mold-making and injection molding issues in order to create three video magnifiers for assembly, inspection and training functions.
``We did an excellent job on ergonomics, but because plastics manufacturing wasn't our focus, we weren't aware of all its nuances,'' said Janice Petty, operations manager in Telesensory's Low-vision Products Division.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Vtek modifies its product off a basic platform that Telesensory builds. ``This platform was our first product to make extensive use of fitted plastic parts,'' Petty said.
The manufacturing process took a circuitous route. The firm experienced difficulties initially with an Asian mold house and then with a small-part domestic supplier. Both subcontracted molding of large parts. At times, problems occurred in appearance, critical dimensional flatness, color matching and shipping cost, and Telesensory ``was dealing with sanding and flashing in-house,'' Petty said. ``That's not our business.''
Now, Kennerley-Spratling Inc. produces three large Vtek magnifier housings on an 850-ton Cincinnati Milacron injection molding machine and 1,000- and 700-ton Van Dorns. KSI has 26 presses in a 70,000-square-foot plant in San Leandro, Calif.
Telesensory contacted Jeff Cranor, KSI vice president of sales, and transferred the tooling for engineering evaluation and production.
``By designating KSI as a participant in the design engineering phase, we resolved process and quality issues early in the product development cycle,'' Petty said. ``KSI's tooling modifications improved production performance and part quality.''
Telesensory continues to order large molds in Taiwan and small molds in Malaysia and makes noncosmetic parts off-shore but uses ``Kennerley upfront to identify manufacturing issues,'' Petty said.
Having expanded the product platform, Vtek managers debuted the industrial video magnifiers at Nepcon West in Anaheim, Calif., focusing on affordability, ergonomic benefits and ease of use.
Vtek's Spectra, Rainbow and Classic magnifiers cost $1,995-$5,890, depending on monitor features, output devices, magnification ranges of 4-50 times and other capabilities.
The ergonomics eliminate ``the strain that can come from hunching over a microscope or optical magnifier,'' said Ron Odell, Vtek vice president and general manager.
Video magnification pioneer Vtek was founded in 1971 and merged in 1989 with Telesensory, which developed the first camera-based system that enables the visually impaired to read printed material.