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Exodus synthesiser extrusion

A doodle to delivery case study: Designing extruded synthesiser bodies

Shapes were approached by Manuel Caballero of Exodus Digital to produce extrusion for the support body for a new synthesiser. Our experience is increasingly that most extruders can’t (or won’t) handle a hand-drawn sketch. We felt this was a particularly good use of extrusion and a project we wanted to be part of, so were keen to work with Manuel from the start.

The first phase of this, and any enquiry, is the drawing office. They look at its suitability for process and advise on any enhancements that won’t compromise fit and function. These can be changes to radii, wall thickness, depth to width ratios even aspects of geometry. Simply rotating a screw port can make a significant difference to how easily something would extrude. Some of this was picked up between Manuel’s original hand drawing and our own renders.

The benefit of Manuel’s drawing was it is a full general assembly drawing (GA). This enabled us to understand how everything works with all the constituent parts and as importantly the areas where we have some wriggle room.

Over a period of time after a number of conversations we agreed the final drawing and issued die prints for approval. At this stage, we could have either produced 3D printed samples in-house or arranged wire eroded samples. These give customers the tactile benefit of physically holding a piece prior to producing the tool, and establishing any mating characteristics at nominal cost.


The physical dies were then ordered. In this case, the lead-time for die delivery was about two weeks and this is how they looked when shiny and new.

Die trials
The dies were then prepared for trialling by our die correctors. This is where experience counts. New dies are a bit like going to the dentist for an extraction and asking if it will come out easily. The dentist doesn’t know until they get the pliers on and give it a wiggle. With a new die, as virtually all dies are unique, you don’t know until it goes to press and takes the first push. Our successful first trial ratio is first class particularly given the nature of the sections we take on.

After extruding under the supervision of die correction, and dimensional checks, the sample runs were sent to our Fabrication Department for machining. In this case, there was some challenging set-ups as the profile was intensively machined and some quite demanding tolerances due to the final overlay. It was sensible to do a first set for customer approval.

Next up Packing which has to get the goods damage free to the customer. It also mustn’t be over elaborate because of disposal and environmental considerations. At Shapes, and in common with general extrusion practice, we favour spiral wrap as shown here.

It’s all about the end product and it is particularly satisfying when the first off is supplied – and does what it says on the box. Everyone at Shapes is proud of the role that we play in being part of the supply chain that helps deliver great products like these to the market.

Want to see more of our work? Check out the case studies, news and articles in our Media and Design School sections.

And always feel free to contact us at or on free phone 0808 168 9098.

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