The Polymer Cluster - Client Study 04

The Company

GSF Ltd

Gledrid Industrial Estate

Gledrid

Chirk

Oswestry, Shropshire

LL14 5DG

www.gsfslides.com

GSF is the UK’s leading specialist supplier of telescopic slides and linear rails offering a wide range of products for various industries, all delivering safe, effective load handling. The company’s design team has the practical experience to provide innovative solutions for unusual applications and can design and manufacture products to meet specific needs.

The opportunity

Transforming GSF’s automotive-based business by making the company a successful innovator in composite plastic-based body parts - and successfully substituting these components for traditional metal-based ones.

Polymer Cluster actions

GSF sought help with the design of two injection-moulded components that could be used with an aluminium rail. The Polymer Cluster coordinated and advanced the design and development work with various delivery partners – including:

- Rapra Technology – for finite element analysis, testing and materials selection

- The Innovative Product Development Centre (IPDC) at the University of Wolverhampton – for the production of prototype parts

- Taylor Precision Plastics Ltd – for the production of the initial pilot products using soft tooling from Zenith Prototyping Components Ltd.

The benefits

GSF has created an award-winning plastics and aluminium slide and tilt mechanism which has already been sold and fitted to a number of fire and rescue automotive vehicles.

This new product is 50% lighter than traditional versions and saves over 30% on costs. Its operation is smoother and quieter and less maintenance is needed.

“The Polymer Cluster’s help has been invaluable to us. The quality and delivery of technical advice and practical assistance has really been first class. Our company’s background was metal-based so when it came to plastics we would not have been able to complete the project without the Cluster’s expertise and resources.”

Jeremy Binnington, Sales and Marketing Director, GSF

Key highlights

The Polymer Cluster helped coordinate a number of complex technical elements and project partners, including PTL (the polymer training organisation), Rapra Technology and the Manufacturing Advisory Service. Tony Steinert, Senior Manufacturing Associate at the IPDC, stresses the importance of collaboration in new product development: “This project has involved client, toolmaker, injection moulder and customer in working closely together”.

Communicating GSF’s abilities and achievements was also key in helping the new product succeed – at the prestigious Lord Stafford Awards 2006 GSF won the Achievement in Innovation Award, sponsored by the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

Additional Outcomes

Through its work GSF has attracted the attention of clients such as the UK Ministry of Defence – and is now supplying sliding systems for the Bowman communication system. GSF is also helping the UK’s civil defence sector where the company’s newly learned expertise is set to equip vehicles that are capable of responding to large-scale civil emergencies.

Since succeeding with its new product innovations, GSF has attracted new export orders and other sales, increasing its overall turnover to £1.3million.

Two new jobs have been created at GSF and three existing jobs have been safeguarded.