Fischer Connectors, Inc.
Georgia, United States
Onyx, HSHT Fiberglass
Tooling and Fixtures
Aerospace and Defense
Fischer Connectors has been re-imagining connectivity since 1954. They design, manufacture, and distribute rugged connectors and cable assemblies that help customers produce reliable, high-performance electronic devices. Their products are particularly suitable for applications that require faultless precision, durability, and resistance to extreme conditions. Fischer Connectors provides standard and tailor-made products to several industries including defense, medical, industrial, instrumentation, audiovisual, transportation, and energy.
Many of Fischer Connectors’ key customers are in the military. The military operates in unforgiving environments, so they need robust connectors and connectivity solutions. Outbidding and outpacing their competitors takes focus and speed. Fischer Connectors’ sales team frequently calls on the engineering team to produce proofs of concept (POC) and proofs of production to help secure contracts. In the past, producing a mold tool for a POC could have taken two weeks, at best, for an expedited order. More frequently, these mold tools take four weeks and cost at least $5,000.
Often, the winning contractor is the one that provides a POC for a viable production connector solution first. To speed up their turnaround times, Fischer Connectors sought out Markforged 3D printers due to the strength of parts printed and reinforced with continuous fiber. For this application, Fischer Connectors use HSHT fiberglass in order to resist deformation of the mold's small features such as the gate and sprue. This mold tool is clamped down at 30 tons, with up to 1,000 PSI of plastic injection pressure heated to over 380°F. A cable's connector is placed in the mold; the mold closes and the overmold material is injected over the connector and cable.
The team can print a set of mold tools in just 24 to 48 hours for ~$150 — far faster and cheaper than 2 to 4 weeks at a minimum of $5,000. For low-volume production runs, the 3D printed mold tool is used as the production mold tool, since many cable assembly houses will no-quote jobs below a threshold quantity. For high-volume programs, where the cost of a conventional steel mold can be substantiated, the 3D printed mold plays a crucial role in developing dozens of POC-ready prototypes to help Fischer Connectors with bids. Using Markforged technology, Fischer Connectors wins substantial contracts based on their fast turnaround time compared to their competitors. They can make and demonstrate a POC to a customer within a week — sometimes just 48 hours. Not only were they able to accelerate design to production, overall costs were lowered because the cost of prototype tooling, amortized to the production cost, was orders of magnitude less than before.