New markets for fascinating product technology
Lightweight, strong and secure handcuffs are on both national and international security services’ wish lists. Several of the most important components of these handcuffs can only be produced using metal powder injection moulding. Technology developer and producer Demcon in Enschede, together with daughter company Demcon metal injection moulding (Demcon MIM), has developed to become a specialist in this advanced production technology. Commissioned by SHN International, Demcon MIM produced a redesign of an existing lightweight handcuff, enabling SHN to win the contract for a national security service. SHN now supplies several thousand items per year. Demcon MIM takes care of the production of various components as well as the entire assembly. Demcon recently acquired SHN in order to safeguard SHN’s continuity and growth. This ensures that the company also has the capability to serve security and governmental services in other countries and to develop handcuffs for semi-civil applications.
Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) is suitable for relatively cheap production of high-quality products in large numbers. ‘The opportunities for MIM largely lie in the combination of serial production, high product complexity, freedom of form and high quality standards,’ stated Ritsaert Willemse from SHN International. ‘Where required, our products offer a high degree of precision and satisfy high standards with respect to aesthetics, partly because of the material’s corrosion resistance. The lightweight handcuff is a fantastic illustration of this.’
Commissioned by SHN International, Demcon MIM was responsible for the partial redesign of the existing SHN handcuff. Metal injection moulding was selected as production technology for several important handcuff components, explained Rob Egberink, Demcon MIM Managing Director. ‘This technology enables the manufacture of lightweight and often thin-walled products with complex geometries that satisfy stringent handcuff standards for strength and rigidity.’ Demcon MIM optimised the design of these components (‘design for MIM’) and the associated production process, produced test products and demonstrated that these satisfy all specifications. The new handcuff is not only lightweight and thus comfortable to use, but it is also strong and secure. This enabled SHN to win the contract for a national security service in 2016, resulting in SHN supplying thousands of items per year for the coming years. Demcon MIM takes care of the production of various components for this and now also the entire assembly.
As SHN is a relatively small business and this is an attractive and large contract, it was recently decided that Demcon should take over SHN. The aim was to safeguard SHN’s continuity and growth, stated Dennis Schipper, Director of Demcon (600 employees). ‘Being part of our company gives SHN a much greater operational and financial strength in the development, production and marketing of its innovative handcuffs. Moreover, we have a diverse international clientèle, which means we are familiar with having to conform to a diverse range of client and market demands.’ SHN International is continuing under the name Demcon safety & security systems, with Willemse as Business Developer tasked with further exploiting the international market. ‘Under the wings of the Demcon group, we have an outstanding growth perspective for our handcuff range.’
Demcon safety & security systems and Demcon MIM are now exploring the opportunities for growth. For instance, together with a specialist in government purchasing, they are investigating the opportunities for the supply of handcuffs to security services in various European countries. ‘We cannot yet say which countries that will be,’ stated Egberink. ‘However, it is the case that each country sets its own requirements for handcuffs, so we will first need to make prototypes for tests and qualification.’ The semi-civil market is also interesting. That is why Demcon safety & security systems and Demcon MIM are developing ‘civil’ handcuffs, for instance for special investigating officers and authorised security companies. Authorised personnel can be equipped with these handcuffs.
Demcon Technology Centre
The production of MIM parts and assembly of the handcuffs currently takes place at the Demcon site in Oldenzaal, but will relocate to Enschede this year. As part of its growth strategy, Demcon is opening a new technology centre there with space for 200 employees. The Demcon Technology Centre comprises a Smart Industry Experience Centre, a metrological demo and service centre, instrument manufacturing, as well as space for production and (clean) assembly. This space is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for such things as metal injection moulding and assembly. The opening of the Demcon Technology Centre is planned for this summer.
As well as the related plastic injection moulding, metal injection moulding (MIM) offers a low item price for medium to large production numbers. It also combines the advantages of other production technologies, such as machining (precision), investment casting and 3D printing (freedom of form and weight savings). In recent years, Demcon MIM has conducted thorough research, together with Demcon colleagues, into optimising this complex and fascinating production technology. All process steps were examined, from production design and mould construction, equipment preparation in accordance with a self-developed recipe, to the actual injection and finishing. The complete process control and its own, unique raw materials enable Demcon MIM to deliver complex products in reproducible quality.
Demcon (600 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products and systems that offer solutions for the technical and societal challenges of clients and end users across the world. The focus areas are high-tech systems, medical systems, industrial systems & vision, optomechatronic systems and robotic systems. The head office is located in Enschede, with subsidiary locations in Best, Delft, Groningen, Oldenzaal and Münster (Germany).
For more information, please contact Renée Koekkoek op Munsterhuis, Public Relations & Press Officer at Demcon, Tel: +31 (0)88 11 52 000. See also www.demcon.nl/demcon-mim.