3d printing is an incredible technology that helps designers create amazingly models. It is great for printing from 1-10 repeated designs, but lets say you want to print 20, 30, 50, 100. Imagine a small print that takes 1 hour, if you wanted to make 100 it takes 100 hours! It would probably take you a few weeks to print all those. Now imagine you had a machine that could print a single model in a couple of minutes. It would take hours rather than weeks to print 100! This is where injection moulding becomes useful. The question is "why is this not the norm?". Injection moulding is expensive, and i want to show you that it doesn't have to be.
I started a small company based on open source DIY miniature and wearable electronics back in 2015 called MiniWear. It comprised of tiny modules that you could easily inter connect in different ways, while also providing a set of cases that could be used in all sorts of applications. Sadly there were a couple of things that i didn't do right, 1 - my Bluetooth microcontroller was way to expensive, hence my project Tiny Low Cost BLE, 2- i did a pretty bad job at going out and trying to get people interested in the modules (Build and they shall come did not work for me), 3 - The cases were not amazing quality and were not super low cost.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how i could print good quality low cost cases, but also be able offer to print cases for others. I attempted to get a quote for injection moulding, but it would have cost over £1000 per case design, and i wanted to give people the creative freedom to make what ever they liked. Therefore i ended up with 3d printing. However, each case was going to take about an hour to print. So maybe if i ran the printer ragged i could print 10 during the day and 10 over night. This was a great solution for unique designs with low orders, but it was going to be extremely difficult to scale up. I was going to have to buy more and more 3d printers. Imagine i needed to make 100, or 500, then it would have taken weeks of printing. However, injection moulding would take a couple of minutes per print, which means i could have finished in hours rather than weeks! Sadly as i mentioned i didn't get the funding so didn't have to deal with this, but if i had, then a low cost injection moulding machine would have been perfect. This is why i started the low cost injection moulding project, so that others who wanted to start a business, support a community, school, or university, could take their designs from printing 1, to hundreds a day, without having to spend £1000's.
If you like the project, and fancy supporting, perhaps you wouldn't mind supporting me on Patreon? Every little bit helps me release more great projects, which helps fuel the amazing open source community. Even $1 makes a difference :)