We were contacted about this project while in the middle of a move from Yunnan, China, to Tokyo, Japan. This would be the first of several projects that made us realize the need to invest in prototyping machines to minimize downtime.
We flew to New Jersey for a project kickoff meeting with Datacolor. The task was to design a housing for Datacolor’s DC200, a new benchtop instrument that would replace the popular but aging workhorse, the DC110.
The challenge was to replace the old housing and extruded aluminum frame with a more modern looking injection molded plastic enclosure over a sheet metal frame, while at the same time keeping the COGs at or below that of the older unit. This was especially challenging because overseas labor costs were rising year over year by multiple percentage points.
We returned to Tokyo and got to work, using local Japanese 3D printing and sheetmetal vendors for prototyping, with my wife Yumi as translator. We found very few tradesmen in Tokyo who could communicate at all in English. We were also frustrated by the fact that any prototyping work in Tokyo would have multiple week lead times, which was far longer than what we were used to, albeit with flawless quality.
These unexpectedly long delays forced us to spend long hours adjusting prototypes with hand tools the best we could, and a decision was made to purchase our first CNC milling machine and 3D printers to enable same-day prototyping whenever needed. Despite unexpectedly long hardware lead times, we delivered completed prototypes on schedule and got to work creating a full drawing package for manufacture. The DC200 quickly moved to production with minimal surprises and is currently an active Datacolor product.
Credits: Zaic Design, Datacolor AG