Additive Manufacturing Strategies

GEMECOD’s Smart Lock, IKILOCK, Garners the Latest 3D Printing Technologies

ST Medical Devices

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lock1A company named GEMECOD has designed a smart lock known as the IKILOCK, a new solution for smart locks that virtually eliminates the need for keys to your home or business. Imagine if you could tap your phone instead of getting out your keychain: what? You haven’t thought about this brave new world of digital locking? And what does this have to do with 3D printing?

Jacques Leneveau, CTO and founder of GEMECOD, explains that the door is not ever closed on all the ways smart locks can be used for both convenience and safety. A door can be opened virtually for a visitor even if you are not on site, and now you too can access the safety and simplicity of smart lock technology.

Let’s consider for a moment the details of the IKILOCK. It may remind you of the locks on a luxury hotel door. Presented at CES 2016, the latest version of the lock is a byproduct of a six-year process, as the lock was designed by three engineers who came up with three different versions of the product.

Prototyping speed was aided by the company’s use of 3D printing and CNC machining; plastic parts were 3D printed while the metal framework of the device was created through CNC machining. Parts that could accommodate a rougher surface finish were made from Sculpteo’s polyamide plastic material, and finer parts were printed using PolyJet technology in resin material.

lock2Leneveau explains his use of 3D printing technology to Sculpteo:

“I knew from the beginning that 3D printing was the right technology to produce some of our prototype’s parts. I first discovered 3D printing back in the early 90s when I was working at Schneider Electric. Sure at the time it was questionable whether additive manufacturing was the right solution each time. But now I don’t see any reason why one would prefer other prototyping technology when creating simple plastic parts.”

It is estimated that product development time was cut by up to a year because of the use of 3D printing technologies. What could take up to a year took just a matter of months, and this speedy delivery on prototypes allowed the company to explore multiple possibilities before settling on the correct model.

lock3The sophistication of 3D printing technologies also aids the step from prototyping to mass marketing, as CAD files do not require much alteration before industrialization through other techniques. Leneveau explains:

“Between 3D printing and the simulations that you can access through mechanical engineering software, there is very little to change once you have the final prototype. This is a big comfort when working on the industrialization of the product. Everything is almost there and it’s all about finding the right partner.”

Ideally, that perfect partner would be located in France, as Leneveau would like for the lock to be a fully “Made in France” product, and the company now has a year to meet industrialization’s challenges. But given that it is ahead of the pack with its fundamental reliance on 3D printing technologies, it appears that the next development phase of the IKILOCK may occur without a hitch, or a latch or chain: maybe all it will take is a 3D printed smart lock. Discuss this new product in the 3D Printed Smart Lock forum over at 3DPB.com.

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