The replacement of metal components by high-performance plastic parts has been an ongoing trend in the industry for quite some years. In that respect, the past few months have unexpectedly proven a boon for new developments of this kind.
We took advantage of the time to approach one of NP Plastics’ more dormant customers to ask whether, by any chance, they had a project we could perhaps collaborate on. After all, NP had been producing just one product for this customer for many years and wanted to talk about expanding our cooperation to other projects, as well.
The pandemic has opened up opportunities – for our customers, too, we noticed – for new ideas and for further development of existing products and applications.
The answer was a nothing if not clear ‘no’. They had other things to worry about during the corona crisis, they said.
The conversation ended with our assuring this customer that should an unexpected setback arise in even a simple run-of-the-mill application, they were more than welcome to give us a call.
I was therefore extremely surprised indeed to receive a call from this customer just a few days later, saying: “I’ve never had anything happen to me before like what just happened. For years, I’ve used a cold-formed stainless steel product that I order in Italy. Now, apparently, the coronavirus has led to a shortage of stainless steel sheets, and my product has suddenly doubled in price.” Could NP Plastics help?
We met the very next day. Our customer had brought the existing product along, together with a 2D drawing, and we went over the other requirements. Two days later, I had a 3D printed prototype in the required dimensions, and a guide price for a steel mold.
With a production volume of around 10,000 pieces a year, some additional calculations were needed. However, when the payback period turned out to be around one year, the order was immediately placed. The first plastic products were delivered within 4 weeks after that first meeting.
Original product 3D printed product
The next metal replacement project – for this customer – is already under way, although this time, in a little less of a rush. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on +31 6 38501788.