• PAPA Pumps benefits from new design lowered manufacturing costs, and new market opportunities. The University of Exeter tries, then buys, an SLS system.
• In revamping both the design and manufacturing strategies for an ingenious water pump, two British organizations make some exciting discoveries — and find new opportunities.
• PAPA Pumps confirms a new pump design that can be manufactured in plastic for 80% to 90% less than its metal counterparts and is less costly to ship. The pump is, therefore, ripe for promotion to a wider range of global markets.
It all started when PAPA pumps, a small company based in Cornwall, UK, was considering ways to improve the design of its main product, a water-powered pump. “We wanted to see if it was possible to make a plastic version that was durable, but easier, faster, and less expensive to produce and ship,” says Michael Burton, Managing Director for PAPA Pumps.
These water-powered pumps have been around for nearly two centuries and are typically used in agricultural applications. They need no external power source, produce no pollutants or waste and maintenance is minimal.
The models PAPA Pumps sell are usually machined out of bronze and stainless steel and were created for a market where strength and durability were paramount. Models vary in size from six inches to six feet, depending on the application. The pumps have only one moving part that has a life of up to twelve months. Typical operational life of this pump is 50 years.
With the agricultural market established, PAPA Pumps believed that creating a plastic version would reduce manufacturing costs and retail costs and open new sales opportunities.
Phillip Selwyn, Technical Director for PAPA Pumps, had been working on new design concepts for several months. He finally settled on a design he thought held the most promise and could be produced in plastic. It soon was time to bring in additional experts that would complement PAPA Pumps’ internal expertise.
PAPA approached the University of Exeter Burton and Selwyn contacted the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Exeter in nearby Devon, UK.
The University has a program for helping small businesses with design and manufacturing solutions. What’s more, this organization is known for its expertise in manufacturing with plastics.
“We’re a solutions provider,” explains Dr. Lee Bridger, Centre Manager for the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Exeter. “We lead small companies like PAPA Pumps along with the way, we bring in additional experts when we need them, and we outsource work to a number of local toolmakers, manufacturers, and other entities as needed...”