Case Studies


Renaissance Learning

Renaissance Learning, a leading provider of computerized assessment and progress monitoring educational tools to pre-K through grade 12 schools and districts, has teamed up with Nicolet Plastics, Inc. (NPI) to produce the new Renaissance Responder, which is a part of the Renaissance Classroom Response System. The RF-controlled system utilizes handheld devices for each student with high-resolution LCD graphical displays. The system allows the teacher to send tests, quizzes and homework assignments to the units wirelessly from the teacher’s computer. Each student can also respond to questions in real-time during a lesson, enabling the instructor to understand the true comprehension level of each student in the classroom setting. Mark Fochs, Director of Materials and Procurement at Renaissance Learning, has been working with NPI throughout the development of this exciting new educational tool.

“Our initial project with Nicolet Plastics was for our Classroom Response System. This program was very focused on time-to-market, as well as quality and cost. Nicolet Plastics has been very supportive in meeting our needs for quick tooling turnaround and has been supplying a quality product at a competitive price. Because they have significant experience and capability in tooling design and creation, as well as the molding process, we were able to begin producing our product in significantly less time than we had with other providers. We are now working on another challenging new program with Nicolet and hope to have similar success.”

“The Renaissance Responder has been a fun and exciting program here at NPI. This is an excellent example of what a good collaborative effort can result in,” notes Doug Baril, Vice President of Sales at NPI. “Our early involvement in the design resulted in easier manufacturing and was a key element in this project. Renaissance Learning had an aggressive time-to-market goal. By having all parties work in tandem with one another, the program pulled together nicely. We are proud to work with Renaissance Learning on an innovative product that will surely improve education as we know it,” Baril concludes.


Invivo Corporation

As Invivo Corporation began to finalize the design of its innovative Luminescence Breast Coil System and Biopsy Device (LBS), Dean Walters, Invivo’s Lead Engineer for the project, began consulting with the engineers of Nicolet Plastics Inc. (NPI).

“We’ve worked with NPI for 25 years,” notes Walters. “And experience has shown that it’s best to involve the NPI engineers early in the process because they use their expertise with plastics to optimize product designs, the mold and tooling processes and even materials selection to give us more cost-effective, high-quality options.”

The design of Invivo’s LBS — a device that provides illumination, superior imaging, immobilization and needle guidance for interventional biopsies — was particularly challenging. Not only would the disposable device need to meet the highest sterility standards, it had to have exceptional mechanical strength in order to provide stability, and had to be composed of both biocompatible and flame retardant materials that wouldn’t image during an MRI scan. This meant improving designs with product development engineering.

“Some components were designed ahead of time, but NPI reviewed all our specs,” explains Walters.

“It’s part of every process we do for a client,” adds Mike Grobe, NPI Project Manager for the BBD program. “We ask our clients’ engineers a series of questions about their product requirements to see what alternative materials and production avenues are open to us. We want to make the process as cost effective as possible, without minimizing the quality of the products — it’s a powerful combination of engineering and product development. The engineers of our clients may not be well-versed in plastics, so our expertise helps them discover alternative designs, materials and production methods they may not be aware of.”

Walters agrees, “Some of the LBS’s more complex tools had side actions, and we had to work with NPI to determine directions of pull. We couldn’t have finished the design without their input.”

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