4/24/2017 | 4 MINUTE READ

Innovative Give-Away to Be Presented during Moulding Expo

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MEX Team supervising an exemplary product development process with students from Reutlingen University implementing a "real project" for Moulding Expo.


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Anyone attending Moulding Expo in Stuttgart this year from 30 May to 1 June 207 will be able to take home a very special memento: the "3-2-eat!“ eating utensil - developed by mechanical engineering students in cooperation with tool construction and mould making companies, and injection moulded under the eyes of the trade fair visitors on stand A02 in Hall 4.

"We want to be the first trade fair to supervise our own give-away from the design stage right through to series production," said Florian Niethammer, Team Director for Moulding Expo at Messe Stuttgart. Messe Stuttgart acquired the services of competent partners to implement this ambitious project. "Acting in the same way as a customer, we turned to the students in the mechanical engineering Master's degree course of Professor Steffen Ritter at Reutlingen University and announced a supplier competition for an item of cutlery - almost like in real life.“

The stipulations were clearly outlined. The required product was to be innovative and sustainable - a gift for visitors that won't be thrown away straight after the trade fair. A robust and multi-functional part was to be created. It had to be made of high-performance plastic and was easy to transport. Naturally multi-functional, self-explanatory to use, with an attractive design and a pleasant touch, and with an area on which a logo can be placed. Stipulations which make the project an "ideal-typical" case for Steffen Ritter. "Every semester I organise a 'real product development project' with my students," said the Reutlingen University professor. "Input with all the real questions of a "customer" is a true blessing here when it's a question of preparing students for the labour market." According to Ritter, another challenge in the development of the item of cutlery was that "3-2 eat!" also had to comply with all the demands of the food industry so that it can be used without hesitation. "Conversely, it is a fantastic gift and a great honour for the students to take part in the trade fair," said Ritter explaining the motivating mood in the team.

The students had two weeks to formulate an initial concept for the trade fair give-away. They were divided into three component teams and worked meticulously on the designs which were finally presented to the "customer". The three developments then formed the subsequent product in which the spoon and fork can be joined as a combined part and the separate knife by means of a bayonet catch. The 20 trainee mechanical engineers then jointly applied themselves to refining and ultimately turning the concept idea into reality. For example, fork parts or the knife blade were designed in detail in individual teams. Initial prototypes were soon produced on the 3D printer. A test meal was also naturally arranged whose main objective was to perform stabbing tests with the fork and spreading and cutting tests with the knife.

Finally, a first-class mature product was created that enabled the students to start cooperating with the toll makers. "We managed to persuade several Moulding Expo exhibitors to take part in the project," said Florian Niethammer. During the design and production of the tool for "3-2-eat!“,

the students were assisted by the company Werkzeugbau David Erz from Laichingen. Subsequent hardening of the components was performed by Werz Vakuum-Wärmebehandlung from Gammertingen. The experts from Reichle, the engraving and laser welding centre in Bissingen an der Teck, applied the high-quality texture to the tool. Niethammer also supervised the entire process here. "I have learnt a lot about tool construction," said the MEX Team Director. "It was an exciting 'hands-on' experience to see how a product is created from the idea finding process and tool construction through to sampling. You almost want to become a tool maker yourself ...“

That's true because the "3-2-eat!“ eating utensil shows everything that is possible with cooperation in the industry. . The product is an example of the challenges facing tool construction and mould making," said both Niethammer and Ritter. The cutlery will not only look good, it will also have high utility value. Visitors to Moulding Expo in Stuttgart will be able to see this for themselves. Using material from BASF and Granula, "3-2-eat!“ will be produced live at the trade fair on an injection moulding machine from Arburg true to the motto of Moulding Expo, i.e. "by the industry for the industry". Incidentally, since the give-away is made of plastic, it can even be carried in hand luggage - important for everyone travelling to Moulding Expo by air.

Moulding Expo – International Trade Fair for Tool, Pattern and Mould Making

The focal points of Moulding Expo are tool, pattern and mould making with injection moulding, die-cast moulding, casting, stamping and forming tools, as well as various pattern-making and prototyping methods. Components and accessories, machine tools, processing tools, measuring technology and special machines, software, and systems and services for tool, pattern and mould making round off the scope of the trade fair. Specialist forums and special exhibitions complement the varied programme. 620 exhibitors and around 14,000 trade visitors came to Stuttgart for the première in 2015. Messe Stuttgart is the organiser of Moulding Expo. It is supported by the German Association of Pattern and Mould Making (MF), the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the German Association of Tool and Mould Manufacturers (VDWF), the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW) and the International Special Tooling & Machining Association (ISTMA). The next Moulding Expo will take place from 30 May to 2 June 2017.