Colin Harwood remembers the day, two and a half years ago, that he decided to stop by Made In Workshop, and take a look inside.
“Henry, the owner of Made In Workshop, showed me around – when I saw the lathe, CNC router, and turret mill, that was it. I knew that the makerspace had everything I’d need for my particular project,” says Colin.
Colin is the owner of Metal Way, an engineering and plastic tool-making company; he’s also the creator of a small-scale injection moulder called Colin Harwood’s Injection Moulder, aka CHIM (Henry came up with the highly original nickname).
Usually injection moulding is used for the mass production of parts; by design the process is perfect for large-scale manufacturing as injection moulders are able to pump out millions of identical parts. It’s used in everything from tool equipment housing to Lego.
Injection moulding is simple in theory: a material, like plastic, is melted, and then injected into a pre-designed mould. Once it cools, the mould is popped out, and there’s your component. In practice it’s a little more complex, though – watch this really interesting video that explains the history of injection moulding, as well as its intricacies.
Colin noticed that often people start the design and prototyping phase of manufacturing, but when things need to be scaled, many jump ship up due to the high costs involved.
“Very few people have R500 000 lying around for an entry-level plastic moulding machine, and they don’t want to run a minimum of 10 000 units when they only need 20,” explains Colin.
Inspired by a Russian guy on YouTube, Colin realised that he could use his 30 years of injection machine knowledge to ‘miniaturise’ a big machine into one that could be used to make plastic moulds on a small-scale.
Colin’s machine is designed to house a mould with a maximum size of 156mm x 156mm – although, through trial and error, he is now able to increase the size by simply bolting off and bolting on a new barrel.
The CHIM was manufactured at Made In Workshop, and allows for the manufacture of low volumes with short runs (and low volume can mean anything from 20 to 100 000 parts).
Colin is a regular at Made In Workshop, where he spends his time iterating and ironing out kinks in the CHIM before it’s ready to, hopefully, be taken to market.
“We want to take it to the next level,” adds Colin. “We don’t want to take something to market that isn’t going to work. But things look promising.”
Contact Made In Workshop on 087 701 4156, or take a look around at 65 Maria Street, Fontainebleau – you may just find exactly what you need to bring your project to life.