From idea to product - Plastic injection moulding

1 December, 2020 by
From idea to product - Plastic injection moulding

TEMO - From idea to product :

Plastic injection moulding

Inspired by urban mobility and electro-portability, TEMO is a new electric propulsion solution for boats.

Designed in 2019, developed in partnership with the CIMTECH design office in Rennes, Brittany, and then industrialised by the Axandus accelerator in Carquefou in the Loire-Atlantique region on France’s west coast, TEMO has very quickly found its market and is preparing to deliver no less than 500 units in this first year of launch. 

Among the attractive arguments for this new motor are its lightness, its unique design and also its manufacture, being made in France and with 70% of the components sourced from the best experts within a 100 km radius of TEMO’s base in Nantes, and in a quality approach. 
TEMO has chosen local manufacturing solutions, with a production cost 15% higher compared to Asian solutions for example. A choice assumed by the start-up and which seems to be echoed by yachtsmen and fishermen, many of whom placed orders even before the first deliveries.

 “Obtain finished parts in a single operation”

Denis Luneau - Director

Among the experts who accompanied the manufacture of the propeller is  ASM protoplast.

Responsible for the manufacture of all the plastic parts that make up TEMO, they were chosen for the quality of the dialogue, the seriousness of the teams, the proximity of the workshop, their know-how in injection moulding and their experience of working with innovative start-ups.

Denis Luneau, the company's director, talked to us about this project which was completed in record time.

Odoo • Texte et Image

Hello Denis, what exactly is ASM? 

ASM is a small group of 3 entities, created in 2007 and today composed of 48 employees:

-   ASM Concept is a design office

-   ASM France is a technical mould-making shop dedicated to mass production

-   ASM Protoplast is an injection moulding and prototyping shop.

 We are an integrated “mould-maker” in plastic injection in order to be able to produce and qualify all the tools, processes and products entrusted to us.

Once the tooling has been produced and after validating the initial samples, we are able to manage production in its start-up phase or series production life if it corresponds to volumes of 100 to 30,000 products per year.  

 Beyond these volumes, it is another organisation, “injection moulders or equipment manufacturers” who can also be ASM France's customers for the production of large series moulds.

What has been your mission for TEMO?

We were put in contact via the company  AXANDUS. TEMO was looking for a local company capable of producing both the tools and the plastic parts.

We integrated this project in the final phase of product design, with étude CIMTECH integrating our production constraints without having to redesign its concepts. Then with TEMO and AXANDUS, we validated the adjustments necessary to reduce the cost of the tools without degrading the quality of the product functions. 

Integrating the product design phase allowed us to start designing the moulds in an optimal timescale (during the production and validation of the prototypes made using 3D printing by TEMO). This then enabled us to start machining the day after the “top Tooling Production”. 

5 moulds were required to make 7 products, including the propeller guard which is perhaps the most complex part to make. This part is injected in 2 phases and with 2 different materials - we inject the insert into a first mould and then this insert is placed in a second mould where it is “overmoulded” with a different material. This last operation completes the ergonomics of the product, guaranteeing flexibility and shock resistance in order to guarantee the main function of protecting the propeller... 

 These moulds were made within 6 to 8 weeks, including during the holiday period. Finally, after the very first parts were produced, we needed 4 to 6 weeks of product and process development to validate the initial samples.      

How does plastic injection moulding work?

Thermoplastic injection allows us to obtain finished parts of complex shapes in a single operation, with a very wide choice of finishes. 85% of the injected materials can be re-ground, re-melted and re-injected. This technology is therefore completely in line with the principles of circular economy. The materials chosen in the TEMO project have been validated with this requirement.

The process calls for several means of production: we need the right material, the right press, the right mould, and the right peripheral equipment (heater, robot, hot chamber). All these elements must be adjusted, and their settings have a direct impact on the quality of the product. Once this process has been validated and is stable, all the parameters must be recorded so that they can be reproduced to ensure that subsequent parts are made identically.

 How complex is a project like this? 

Firstly, the most important thing is to fully understand the needs and to validate the constraint functions linked to uses and the environment. Following on from this, we have to analyse the risks and propose to the group the various technical and economic solutions, along with their advantages and disadvantages. 

This preliminary and collaborative work is essential, with the project leaders who generally support the responsibility of the overall design vis-à-vis the users, we must also listen to the other partners who also have their own constraints and functions to ensure.  Without necessarily knowing all the details of each profession, the relationship of trust is therefore essential. This must be exercised in all directions and this is why, in my opinion, proximity takes on its full meaning.

Short deadlines, tight budgets, technical parts that are difficult to inject or overmould, the integration of magnets inside the products, the required resistance of the propeller guard without being able to change the ergonomic design provided interesting challenges for us.

ASM wants to be modern and agile. Innovation has always been at the heart of our solutions, I think that this allows us to learn, to adapt, and to simply remain motivated to do our job. The expertise of Ronan, Stéphane and Jean-Michel, the work of Marie and Anne Sophie's, and the two-way perspective with the whole ASM PROTOPLAST team has enabled us to collaborate in the success of your project and we are very proud of this!!!

You often work with start-ups. Why is this?

Collaboration with start-ups is often energy-consuming and sometimes a little risky financially, but in their contact, we learn a lot - about commercial strategy, the importance of communication, marketing, the highlighting of know-how... This helps us to adapt, to change our view of our own ecosystem.

We were interested in the TEMO product because it is technical, aesthetic, innovative and carried by Alexandre and his team, with whom we share the same values, particularly that of having understood the advantages of producing locally.

Plastic isn’t particularly very eco-friendly Denis. What do you think?

I'm not sure that the problem is plastic itself, the problem is the single use and over-consumption of materials, whether it's wood, cardboard, plastic or any other material.

All the materials that have been used in the TEMO product can be re-ground and re-injected to make other products. Furthermore, despite the harsh marine environment, they have a life span of more than 10 years. This has nothing to do with “PET” type packaging plastics, which are in fact difficult to recycle and produced in far too large volumes.

 The eco-design that has been made with CIMTECH to make the product dismantlable, repairable and recyclable makes sense. And we’re continuing to work with TEMO: we are currently carrying out material tests in order to develop certain injected parts in recycled plastic. However, the industry must then follow and organise itself. Demand is strong and the prices of recycled materials are sometimes more expensive than the basic material and for inferior technical functions…    

Thank you Denis !

Denis Luneau, director of'ASM protoplast

 Related articles : 

From idea to product - #1 : The Design

From idea to product - #2 : The prototype

From idea to product - #3 : The industrialisation

From idea to product - Plastic injection moulding
Justine PERUSSEL 1 December, 2020