We sat down with James Murphy, the general manager at HLH Prototypes to ask him a bit about HLH’s ProtoTool service. Follow below to learn how HLH can help you bridge the gap between prototype parts and production parts.
What is ProtoTool?
ProtoTool is what we call our rapid tooling service here at HLH. It’s a fast, low cost injection mold tooling service that can deliver production quality parts.
Why would a client choose to go with your ProtoTool service?
Sometimes during the prototyping stage, before a mass production tool is committed to, it is essential to be able to test parts using the actual production materials, our ProtoTool service allows you to do this, offering real parts from real tools.
Is this the only time you would suggest going with a ProtoTool?
No, ProtoTool is also designed to be highly flexible and it really does allow you to do many things. Clients’ requirements differ from project to project and at different stages during those projects HLH’s ProtoTool service is there to give them great flexibility when it comes to verifying a design or realizing a production part before mass production takes place.
Can you give us an example other ProtoTool uses?
HLH’s ProtoTool allows you to test certain injection molding parameters before locking into production tooling. It also allows you to get low volumes of parts made very fast for early market testing, or it may be that you only need low volumes of parts for a specialty part or product and this is a good option to keep costs down.
Is there a limit to the type of part you can make using Prototool?
Not really because the tools are all built to order depending on your individual project requirements. The largest tools we have built to date are a set of front and rear car bumpers and at the other end we have done a rapid tooling ProtoTool for a small precision razor and medical parts.
It sounds like rapid tooling can do anything, can it?
No, and it is important to be clear on your requirements, due to the emphasis on low volumes and speed, some of the materials and processes we use to realize the ProtoTool tooling can be limiting in other ways. For example the highest precision parts with very high tolerances can be difficult via a ProtoTool.
What advice do you have for people considering Prototool?
The clearer you are on what you are looking for and the more information you can provide to us about your requirements the easier it will be for us to ascertain whether ProtoTool is the right solution for your project. Communication is the key in any project and this is especially true during the design and development stages when any issues can result in costly delays. Overall I would say that ProtoTool is a very flexible service that many of our clients have integrated into their part development process.