Date Visited: 14 December 1995
JTEC/WTEC Attendees: J. Beaman (report author), R. Brown, K. Narayanan
Japan Aviation Electronics (JAE) is a major Japanese electronics company whose products include electrical connectors, aerospace electronic equipment, and optics-related equipment. The JTEC/WTEC team visited JAE's main plant in Akishima, which has 2,400 employees. JAE also has Japanese facilities in Hirosaki, Yamagata, Fuji, and Shinshu, and overseas facilities in the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.
In conjunction with INCS, JAE uses prototyping primarily in its Connectors Division, but also uses it in other divisions. Traditional methods for obtaining connector prototypes are very labor intensive, and rapid prototyping offers a great advantage. By special procedures using thin slices, support knowledge, beam compensation, and shrinkage iterations, JAE engineers are able to produce connector parts with an accuracy of ±.1 mm. These parts are used for both functional tests as well as visualization. Their desire is to have parts with an accuracy of ±.01 mm.
JAE uses the Ciba-Geigy acrylate resins. The managers would like to have connector prototypes in engineering plastics such as PBT, PPS, and LCP. They are interested in strength, heat endurance, and stiffness.
JAE is one of the more progressive companies in Japan in the use of 3D CAD. It started using ProEngineer on a development basis in 1993.
Traditionally, most prototypes are fabricated manually using vacuum casting, milling, and wire EDM. JAE representatives expressed great interest in advanced tooling using rapid prototyping, but they doubt that pilot connector molds can be directly fabricated with this method due to the high precision and small detail required.