Phillips-Medisize and U-Turn Audio Turn Up the Volume on Tonearm Performance for Next-Gen Turntables
- Largest turntable manufacturer in the U.S. by volume teams with largest magnesium-injection molder in North America to orchestrate major tonearm tech innovations
- Engineering better sound required special expertise in complex product design, engineering and thixomolding
- Consolidating three-part assembly into a single, unified part reduced tooling costs, supply chain requirements and assembly time
Phillips-Medisize, a Molex company, and a leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of pharmaceutical drug delivery, invitro diagnostic, medtech and specialty consumer devices, has applied its proven prowess in magnesium-injection molding to collaborate with U-Turn Audio, the largest turntable manufacturer in the nation by volume. Together, the companies developed a game-changing tonearm for next-generation turntables.
"The tonearm is basically the heart of the turntable," said Bob Hertig, president and CEO, U-Turn Audio. "It's responsible for so much of the actual audio production. We wanted to simplify what we had by taking multiple components and forming them into one solid piece to reduce resonance and create a more rigid and better performing tonearm."
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyl sales have outpaced CDs for the first time since 1987. In its 2022 annual revenue report, RIAA reveals that vinyl made up $1.2 billion of the $1.7 billion in physical media sales, outselling CDs by nearly 8 million units. The audiophiles and LP loyalists at U-Turn Audio realized that making its new tonearm from magnesium offered improved mechanical and physical properties over conventional materials. The challenge, however, was finding an organization with proven experience in "thixomolding," a unique process used in magnesium injection molding.
To execute on its innovative tonearm concept, U-Turn Audio tapped the unique expertise of Phillips-Medisize, the largest magnesium injection molder in North America. At its Wisconsin-based facility, Phillips-Medisize applies more than a half-century of expertise to provide end-to-end manufacturing services, spanning front-end design, development and manufacturing services for highly regulated industries including medical devices made from magnesium.
Harmonious Collaboration Hits All the Right Notes
U-Turn and Phillips-Medisize worked together to unify various tonearm parts into a single, continuous piece, dubbed the OA3 Pro. Designed for U-Turn Audio's high-end Orbit Theory turntable, the tonearm design was incredibly complex, requiring very thin wall thickness as well as a long, slender core for the tonearm's stem. Extremely high heat and pressure involved in the thixomolding process added another level of difficulty, which was eased by Phillips-Medisize's decades of experience in mold-design and flow analysis.
"The work with U-Turn Audio was a great collaboration as they involved us early in the design phase," said Eric Semingson, advanced development manager for Phillips-Medisize. "They were open and accepting of the design assistance we offered. The value of designing a part that is a single-piece component versus a three-piece assembly is that you reduce tooling costs, supply chain requirements and assembly time. Ultimately, the total cost of the product is reduced."
Widespread Acclaim for Better-Performing Turntable
From concept to completion, the entire planning and development process for the new tonearm took more than a year. U-Turn Audio also took the opportunity to refresh other turntable features, culminating in the September 2022 launch of the Orbit Theory. Widespread acclaim soon followed, with glowing editorial reviews and extremely enthusiastic market response. As a result, U-Turn Audio now is planning to ship the new tonearm on additional turntable models going forward.
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