Developing Vintage Vacuum Tube Clocks with WayKen

Make a combination of vintage tube clocks and modern technology, WayKen is committed to bringing your wonderful ideas to life.

At a Glance of the Project

CustomerJed DeFalco, Vetta Investments
IndustryElectronics and consumer goods
ProductVacuum Tube Clock
ChallengesEnsuring assembly of CNC machined metal base and cast plastic cover
TechnologyCNC machining, vacuum casting
MaterialAluminum alloy 6061, PX5210 (PMMA-like)
Surface finishBead-blasting, clear anodizing, polishing
Quantity10 units
Lead Time8 business days
the vacuum tube clock

About the Product: Vacuum Tube Clock

As a supply chain and change management leader, Jed DeFalco fancies the vintage look of the vacuum clock and he thinks it will be a nice product, so he started to create some samples before bringing the product to the market. Here are Jed Defalco’s ideas on the product. “The components Wayken has produced for me are part of a vacuum tube clock, sometimes referred to as a Nixie Tube Clock. “

Jed tried to combine the vintage tubes and sockets with a modern look so that a customer will be pleased to display such a piece in their home. He even designed the electronics in such a manner that it looks cool and interesting when viewed through the clear cover.

“The clock is also WiFi enabled, so it gets accurate time from an Internet NTP pool, and so that all clock features and settings can be accessed through a web browser window, making it very convenient.” Jed said.

tube clock display

Get Started to Pre-production 10 Set Covers and Bases

Like any other new product development process, Jed needed to test his product first, including function, assembly, and appearance. He and his team designed a complete test fixture, which would incorporate the M3 screw holes and the 16mm socket holes. As long as the cover fits on the test fixture, the final assembly is not a problem at all.

Jed reached out to WayKen to discuss a suitable solution to make the plastic cover and metal base of tube clocks. He wanted to order 10 sets of covers and bases to test first.

WayKen Helps to Choose the Right Processes to Optimize Budget

Jed wanted to choose CNC machining to produce both the metal base and the plastic cover. But he aimed to drive down production costs at the same time. After collecting information about the product, WayKen proposed using CNC machining to make the metal base with aluminum alloy and vacuum casting to make the clear plastic cover.

Using CNC machining to produce metal bases results in more accurate and high-quality parts. Although this can make the cost higher, it is a worthwhile alternative for quality and accuracy. At the same time, using a cost-effective vacuum casting process to produce plastic covers to optimize the budget.

Manufacturing Challenges and WayKen’s Solutions

However, with vacuum casting technology, the main issue is that the cast parts are not as precise. It brings a potential assembly issue with the metal base when using screws to assemble the cover and the base. If the 4 countersinks on the corners of the cover do not align with the 4 threads on the base, the parts will be difficult to assemble well.

key points of block assembly

Two Key Points to Ensure Assembly

There are two key points that need to be considered before production.

Firstly, concentricity of the counterbore on the 4 corners of the tube clock is essential for correct assembly. The holes of the cover shall align properly with the ones of the base.

Secondly, the dimensional tolerances of the cast parts shall be restrained to a similar range of the CNC machined metal base. So ensuring the accuracy and precision of the vacuum casting process is a priority.

How WayKen Help the Project?

Since the very first stage of the quotation, WayKen has been discussing the project with Jed, offering DFM analysis and providing insights into production. Eventually, both of us came to the conclusion that the vacuum casting master pattern should be made in clear PMMA with CNC machining, instead of a 3D printed master or CNC machined ABS master.

With this approach, the silicone mold will be possessed a higher shape and quality. It will ensure the size of the master pattern which is fundamental to the accuracy of the final product. In addition, in the process of vacuum casting, the time of each process has to be strictly controlled to avoid any errors.

tube vacuum block prototype

Through strict production management processes and professional machining technology, WayKen managed to produce the covers and bases. Then, we conducted thorough quality inspections on the metal base and cover cast parts, specifically focusing on the alignment of the countersinks and threads. It showed that the 4 corners of the cover aligned precisely with the corresponding threads on the base. The assembly of parts for this project was precise and efficient.

Feedback and Future Plan

After testing assembly, Jed Defalco provided feedback on the parts. He is content with the outcome of the products and ready for the next step in launching the vacuum clock to the market. Combining CNC machining and vacuum casting, WayKen helps Jed both save costs and ensure quality.

“I enjoyed collaborating with WayKen. We made a good team! Thank you very much and also please let your production team know that I appreciate their efforts and positive approach! We’ll collaborate on this for the next order soon!!!” Jed said.

If you have a project requiring multiple manufacturing methods and quick turnaround times, please feel free to contact us to get a free quote. We are always ready to turn your ideas to life.

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