ProGlove has come to market with the ambition of taking a ubiquitous digital device in the industrial barcode scanner and making it smart and wearable. The start-up was founded more than six years ago and has been working alongside post-processing firm DyeMansion ever since, partnering with service provider FORMRISE more recently after initially using a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) platform inside a makerspace.
Its MARK family of products includes the MARK Basic, MARK 2 Mid Range, MARK 2 Standard Range and the recently introduced MARK Display, which presents information, such as product and storage numbers, to the user as scanning is carried out. The company suggests, while it’s able to do 6,000 scans with a full battery charge, that the MARK Display can also help companies work six seconds faster per scan and achieve 33% fewer errors with intuitive feedback. Already the company counts Seat, Bosch, Audi, Volkswagen, Kuka and Lufthansa Technik among its customers and, increasingly, is using 3D printing equipment to serve them.
ProGlove started out using Fused Deposition Modelling technology to produce early-stage prototypes but wanting to test and use the parts it was printing, the company eventually adopted SLS technology. In doing so, it enjoyed the freedom of design 3D printing allows to create more complex shapes and also reduced the amount of components required to put together its barcode scanners, but the company says it struggled to achieve a mechanical performance comparable with injection moulding and also encountered problems with the colouring of parts. Partnering with DyeMansion, though, ProGlove believes it has overcome these challenges.
Printing the casing for the barcode scanner via FORMRISE, the parts are cleaned with DyeMansion’s POWERSHOT C platform, finished with a semi-glossy and scratch-resistant surface in the POWERSHOT S machine and then evenly dyed in a shade of orange that matches the ProGlove brand inside the DM60 unit. Overall, the post-processing takes around three hours and, ProGlove says, brings its 3D printed products closer to the quality of injection moulded parts.
“With the Print-to-Product workflow we saw the development to have competitive parts and to really use SLS for serial production,” commented Konstantin Brunnbauer, VP of Production at ProGlove. “We have superior surfaces with PolyShot Surfacing. That was proven when we approached customers with injection moulded parts, and they said they liked the PolyShot surface even better.”
This process is being harnessed to produce at volumes up to 10,000 pieces, with injection moulding being called upon for larger orders. ProGlove says 3D printing and DyeMansion’s post-processing tools have helped it to improve the quality of its product, leaving MARK parts with a ‘premium surface finish’ able to ‘withstand daily wear and tear’ and ensuring all products are repeatable. The company is now ramping up the production of MARK devices and also working with DyeMansion to develop new products.
“That is where we are now,” Brunnbauer said. “We have reproducible processes, and every part looks the same. We have a perfect colouring throughout the surface and these processes enable us to compete with traditional manufacturing technologies like injection moulding. For the end user, the customer, there is no difference. And for us as a manufacturer, the reliable processes give us the freedom to develop and enhance steadily.”
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