CORONADO, CALIF. — Fluke Corp., a captive injection molder and maker of professional electronic test tools, shared a case history of how it saved on tooling and design and shortened the time-to-market cycle in developing a proprietary frame relay tester. The Everett, Wash., firm used existing molds to make the case bottom and top and smaller parts and avoided spending about $300,000 for new tooling, David Gunderson, a senior staff engineer, said at the Portable Design 2000 conference in Coronado.
"We saved about two person-years of design time [and] were able to test prototype circuit boards in molded cases," Gunderson said.
The project began in June 1998, and Fluke began shipping the frame relay installation assistant in December. The firm uses an insert molding process on a 200-ton press. It premolds the ABS-polycarbonate case parts and then overmolds with a urethane-based blend for a soft feel and good insulation. The top is molded on a two-color 300-ton press.
Fluke, a subsidiary of Danaher Corp., operates 16 injection molding presses of 28-300 tons and also has a cell with four separate molding heads that manufacture test leads automatically. The unit employs more than 2,400.