Researchers Turn Executive Toy Into Engineering Tool

November 05, 1998

Researchers at the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick have transformed an executive "pin art" toy that sat on many managers desks into a hi-tech industrial moulding tool that those same mangers can now use to create new products.

Dr. Gordon Smith has adapted the "pin art" toy which consisted of several moveable pins of the same length. When a shape such as a human hand is pushed against the pins, on one side the pins push out onto the reverse of the box forming the shape of the hand [or any other objects] as a series of raised pins.

Using a Realising Our Potential Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Dr. Smith has created a more precise network of pins which are covered by a flexible plastic sheet. The pins can then be precisely controlled to pull the sheet into the shape of any product or component that a company wishes to mould. When the moulding process is complete the pins and covering sheet can be re-set to zero creating a precise mould that is actually re-usable. Dr. Smith and his team call this new process "intelligent tooling".

University of Warwick

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