Rapid prototyping for production parts

Just wanted to quickly document a neat little project we did recently that seems to be working out. Logic16 uses an off the shelf light pipe. Creating a custom light pipe requires an injection molded part, as well as someone who knows what they are doing (and optics modeling software) to design it. It’s something we want to do later on with fancier products but for Logic16 an off the shelf part made sense.

We did have this issue however where light from the light pipe would shine out the front slot of the device, where you plug in the wire bundles. You might think this would be cool, but in practice it was quite inelegant, and so we had been using little rubber tubes cut to a given length to shroud the light pipe. However, this was not a very elegant solution and the eventual plan was to figure out a way to manufacture something custom.

It turns out that rapid prototyping a big grid of such a custom part is actually pretty cost effective. The first material we tried isn’t ideal because it’s surprising transparent, although it does look pretty decent as seen from the front slot now, and we’ll probably be able to get this in a more opaque material. $200 for 400 parts (the array below is 20×20 although there are sure to be more cost effective sizes) beats whatever injection molding would cost, at least in the short term. And you can’t beat the lead time. Plus if you screw up, it’s not a big deal.

Joe Garrison

Co-Founder, Saleae

San Francisco, CA https://www.saleae.com