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Specialised Imaging uses AM for high speed success

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The Brief:
Specialised Imaging (SI) is a camera manufacturer with a difference, producing some of the fastest cameras currently available worldwide.  The standard “off the shelf” SLR will take around 3 frames per second (fps), whilst a “top of the range” model might give up to 60 fps.  One of Specialised Imaging’s High Resolution Camera range is capable of taking 1 billion fps.

These incredibly fast cameras are used in many areas of research to unlock the secrets of ultra-high speed and transient events and processes.  In order to fully evaluate the failure modes of some projectiles, it is necessary to observe the performance of the round over a significant portion of its trajectory.  To achieve this with a number of single shot cameras would be prohibitively expensive, so SI developed the Trajectory Tracker 2, a Flight Follower System, that uses a fast scanning mirror and high speed video camera.

In order to follow their industry brief, the Tracker 2 had to be extremely robust whilst being capable of recording and delivering the most accurate data in a field environment.  SI needed to source repeatable and accurate components at reasonable costs, using a manufacturing method that would deliver the complex components required without the prohibitive expenditure associated with tooling up for such parts.

The Solution:
3T had already enjoyed a long association with the team at SI having produced prototypes for previous models and several end use products, such as exterior casements.  Their plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) process offered the ideal solution for the Tracker 2, as it can achieve the tough and dimensionally accurate components that the unit demanded.

The major advantages of plastic AM is that there is absolutely no tooling required to produce the parts and if a design reiteration should ever be needed, there is no cost implication as the CAD can be revised and then re-sent to 3T, enabling the design to be modified and parts re-built all in just a matter of days.

The Result:
The collaboration between 3T RPD and SI on the Trajectory Tracker 2 Project resulted in the use of nine individual components that were manufactured using their plastic AM process.

Wai Chan, Managing Director of Specialised Imagingsays “Our collaboration with 3T has enabled us to build the extremely robust Tracker 2 system without the need for expensive tooling for injection moulding.  Using Additive Manufacturing in place of more conventional techniques also means that design changes can be incorporated just as easily and quickly as ordering the next part.”

Many industries are increasingly recognising the use of plastic AM as a production method and not just a prototyping route, and the process is progressively being utilised for end use parts.  Using Nylon 12 is particularly attractive for low to medium volume components, as the high initial cost of tooling, which is often a major restriction on the path to manufacture, can be largely negated.  Critical redesign can also be incorporated much earlier in the component life cycle because associated cost penalties can be significantly reduced.

Extra bits:
Further information and video footage of Specialised Imaging’s Tracker 2 system can be found on their website here and additional video footage of it in action can be viewed on YouTube here.

Related links:
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