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"Next Gen" Zip Tie - it works!
Reusable zip tie concept demonstrated using the new HP Multi-jet 3D printer
"It works!" says Dan Vorhis, designer of the zip tie. "I was concerned that the fine detail of the zip tie, which is necessary to build a working model of the design, would be too much for a rapid prototyping 3D printer. Or the materials wouldn't be tough enough. Or the flexibility wouldn't be there. I was wrong on all counts."
In the past, to create a functional model of a new design part like Vorhis's zip tie, a designer would have to make a casting - a relatively expensive and time-consuming process. Or sometimes a designer would have to create a single cavity mold - a miniature version of an expensive production tool - and inject molten plastic into the mold to get a part identical to a production part, before demonstrating that a concept works.
"I really expected to have to make a single cavity thermoplastic injection mold on this," said Dan. "Potential licensees need to see, at the very least, a functional model. We tried other 3D printing technologies, but couldn't get the resolution or the strength. When I heard about the Hewlett Packard MultiJet technology, and received a very reasonable price on the quote, I said '...what the heck, let's try it.'"
Vorhis's "Next Gen Zip Tie" is a simple, innovative design approach to the ubiquitous zip tie - but the Vorhis zip tie is reusable. See the design, and how it works, on the YouTube video linked below. For Vorhis, a reusable zip tie is, in part, a statement against disposable technology.
"We grew up on a small farm, didn't have much money, and learned to make and use things creatively. I dislike waste. Most of my product designs reflect a desire for products to last a long time."
"I am delighted with the parts we received off of the HP MultiJet 3D printer. The detail is excellent, says Vorhis. "The polymer, while a little harder than what will be used for production parts, is of sufficient strength and flexibility that we have a functional prototype to show. And for a tiny fraction of the cost of a cast or molded part. What a great tool for a product designer!"
The "Next Gen" zip tie design is patent pending, and is for sale or license. A functional prototype may be seen on this short YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/