Prototyping and Testing of a Consumer Grade Flood Protection System
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Injection moulding is a common production method for mass manufacturing of plastic products. However, creating production-intent prototypes for these products is a challenging task, as injection moulds are expensive to build and therefore impractical for implementation in any early stages of a new product development process. Introducing injection moulding at a later stage without properly testing a product's functionality and mouldability increases the likelihood of late design changes that require rework, or even a complete remake, of the injection mould. Late changes can create severe additional costs, and a method to create representative prototypes that are able to test the functionality and mouldability of a product prior to production is of great interest. Research on whether entry level, low cost, 3D printing and vacuum forming techniques can be utilized as tools to test products that ultimately will be produced through injection moulding is conducted throughout this thesis. A method for creating production-intent prototypes at a low threshold has been established, enabling the introduction of physical prototypes at an early stage in the new product development process. The structural design of an all-new consumer grade flood protection system has been developed, utilizing both analytical and physical prototyping tools that facilitated rapid learning on the structural behavior of the system. Furthermore, physical prototypes of a complete modular system, including connections between the modules and the integrated structure for strength and functionality, have been created combining 3D printed and vacuum formed parts. The prototypes showed high performance during physical testing, meeting several highly demanding flood protection standards. In the creation of the vacuum formed parts, moulds were created using entry-level 3D printing equipment, which resulted in a massive decrease in costs and lead times compared to hiring external suppliers for mould manufacturing. This, in turn, resulted in great opportunities to implement physical prototypes in the early stage of the process, while facilitated rapid design changes, which are inevitable in any new product development process. The design of a consumer grade flood protection system, designed for production, has been proposed as a result of this work.