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Star Prototyping

March 12, 2012

M4, our production candidate bike, would have been done six months ago if it weren’t for the troubles we’ve had getting the plastic parts – fenders, instrument console box, etc – made.  So our top priority here in China is find places to fabricate ABS plastic and carbon fiber parts for us.  We were super excited to get a chance to visit Star Prototype across the Pearl River from Shenzhen.  Gordon Styles sold his rapid prototyping business in the UK in 2000, and came to China to do the same thing here.

We hear constant stories both in the popular press at home and on the street here about the tendency of some Chinese suppliers to change a product’s specs and/or swap in cheaper parts.  Gordon is bound and determined to make world-class quality parts at his shop.  And from what we saw from our two-hour visit, it looks like he’s doing it.  The second photo shows the main machine shop floor in the prototyping facility – it looks as clean and organized as anything I’ve seen in the US.  Then he took us in the QC room where he has an amazing suite of high-tech machinery to check the quality of incoming parts and materials.  The laser scanner in the third photo can do a 3D scan on a part to determine shape to within 0.001 inch.   The gun in the fourth photo analyzes the composition of a metal sample and return the alloy type.  Ned shoved his wristwatch into the fellow’s hand and had him analyze the back plate.  The operator warned him that the watch may come back slightly degraded (i.e. destroyed) but Ned gave the go-ahead.  Sure enough, the alloy was 304 stainless steel — and the watch is still ticking.

The last photo shows Ned trying to land a job making urethane plastic parts with a silicone mold.  Gordon said his productivity was too low and so he was going to stick with the Chinese staff.


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One Comment
  1. I’m sure Margaret is grateful that Gordon didn’t hire Ned on, despite his ME expertise.
    Keen ’em coming. I love following your trip.

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