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Star Prototype… prototyping facility

Star Prototype is a prototyping facility for doing short runs of products (in the tens) to develop the tool and verify the design and make iterations on the prototype before going to mass production. After working with Star, one is confident that the design and tools they have could be taken to a larger factory and used to produce thousands of units.

The factory is run by a successful Westerner Gordon Styles, who is adamant about quality control and using Western methods in his factory. Calling it a factory is a bit of a misnomer, though. It’s more like a spotless workshop, with knowledgeable employees at each station, responsible for their work and trained from the ground up. In many cases, Gordon specifically said he tried to hire new people who hadn’t been ruined by other factories and could be trained to do things correctly. He requires staff to only have limited overtime, and that is paid overtime, and they get longer breaks as well, and their dormitories are less packed. The staff are happier and better educated and more conscious of the client’s needs and quality control and safety. The equipment and work areas are well maintained, and there is special equipment to analyze materials to ensure that they are using the quality of product that they demand and aren’t being swindled by suppliers. They have facilities to develop and test all through the product development stage and can even crank out a few thousand parts if necessary. They have a list of manufacturers they recommend for higher volume work that also try to treat their employees ethically and with high standards.

Their Western style of engineering doesn’t come at Eastern prices, however. But the security and high quality during the product development is worth a lot when it comes to designing the tooling and materials that will be used for mass production, where the slightest flaw can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

We toured their main facility, which included rooms for polishing, painting, vacuum molding using silicone molds (expensive and only good for about 20 parts, but significantly cheaper than having a metal tool cut), lathes and CNCs, and a significant quality control facility. Then we took a short ride to a separate building which included the mills that are used to make the injection molding tools, and then the building next to it which used the tools inside the injection molds.

(Star Prototype)

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