Value engineering ID card printers to reduce manufacturing costs

Magicard Alto

The Challenge

Magicard, originally part of the defence and security specialist, Ultra Electronics, have manufactured a range of secure desktop ID card printers since the 80’s. To achieve international expansion of the company, they invited GX to discuss ways in which their products could be value engineered to reduce manufacturing costs..

Given just 20 minutes to consider the challenge being presented, GX’s design director, Gary Ross noted that the Magicard was built around a chassis, comprising of many components. He suggested rationalizing the design by introducing an injection moulded  plastic “H” frame chassis. This inspired suggestion ensured that GX were awarded the contract to commence the design development of a whole range of ID card printers.

The Solution

Originally Ultra had discounted plastic because of the stability, strength and dimensional tolerances that were needed within the machine. CAD and rapid prototyping were less advanced nearly 10 years ago, but the product development team at GX made a rapid prototype model using SLS to prove that the mechanism would work.

Rationalising the design around a plastic “H” frame and utilizing clips rather than fixing screws would deliver significant manufacturing savings and thereby a cheaper entry price. GX’s design ultimately brought the time it took to build a printer down to just 40 minutes. To allow fast and accurate mass production, GX additionally guided the client though the injection moulding process and the use of high performance plastics. 

The Result

GX took just nine months from inception and proving their design for the Alto could be produced, to final production. Initially manufacturing of the units was undertaken in England, before production was moved to China, to help lower manufacturing costs even further. GX later designed the Pronto printer which replaced Alto and with further design advancements, production of the printers returned to the UK where Magicard, now a separate company, continues to produce the perfect printer for small companies who require low volume ID cards.