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  • Industrial Design for low volume products

    Discussion in 'Industrial design' started by berrymecium, Jul 2, 2011.

    1. berrymecium

      berrymecium New Member

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      How do you design for low-volume products? This one of the toughest areas for a industrial designer because your choices for manufacturing processes and materials are so limited. How do you tackle this problem?

      Jim B
       
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    3. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      You have a market, you have customers willing to pay for the limited production run / bespoke nature of the product – now you need to identify the processes to be used and design to suit that process.

      Examples – you are unlikely to be injection moulding so can you use vacuum forming, you are unlikely to be using die casting so can you machine from solid; in these cases you know you cannot get B surface details on Vac Forms so will need to develop alternative fixings where you might have used moulded clips, on the machined component don’t design “as cast†drafted walls, this will cost you where perpendicular walls are easy / more suitable for machining.

      This could be an extensive discussion – but like any piece of work, design to suit the needs of the product and the process that best gives the desired volumes. If you are unsure of what is required in terms of design for manufacture just ask, you will find most suppliers prefer to simplify geometry to suit the process (make their job easier or in cases workable) – the question is do these changes suit the desired design objectives?

      Designing to suit process can be as important for low volume as high volume runs.

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    4. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Practicing DFM in the assumption that your client will eventually expand their business/needs is an approach I use. Although its not always practical, sometimes, you can't really know if a one-off will become a critical component for a 1k-10k part run.

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    5. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      First and foremost is to design the product to meet the necessary functional and safety requirements. Many times, especially in the industrial enviroment, there are limited options when it comes to material selection and processing to meet impact requirements, electrical specs, etc...

      However, an important step is to involve a tool designer early in the process. Many times moving a few holes, changing the configuration slightly, the use of hand-loaded inserts can ease the cost of tooling up for low volume production. But these design recommendations need to be incorporated before the product has gone through the necessary FEM studies, UL approvals, etc...

      We produce a number of injection molded parts for industrial applications using engineering resins, threaded inserts, and hydraulic actions. Some of these parts only require a few hundred per year. Communication between the OEM product designer, marketing, tooling designer, and molder is critical.

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    6. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      New 3D printing is getting cheap enough to do low volume production runs, we just did one for a client that saved them a lot of money compared to getting a mold built, or having it cnc machined.

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    7. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      in the case of injection molding, you can also get a temporary mold made of aluminum instead of steel. It will cost you a lot less money.

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    8. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Actually I have used temporary aluminum molds for long-term manufacturing runs. I believe that we got 10,000 parts from one of the molds. That number got us through the life of the product.

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    9. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Julian, Robert and Doug; great comments/suggestions. Thank you. I have practiced all of these at one time or another. However, this discussion, as Julian suggests, can, and needs to be, be quite extensive. Have any of you seen something along the line of a matrix that compares the various processes, their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, helps identify a process, or processes, that will most easily yield the aesthetics you are trying to achieve?

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    10. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      The RP / RM point is valid, an engine (my current avatar) I rev. eng'd has SLS titanium exhaust headers, at 4 per engine and 8 engines they worked out at half the cost of formed sheet metal and much reduced lead time. The geometry is 40mm circular section to fig of 8 section at valve guide end with 1mm wall - easier to " print" than "make" and good chance of being more accurate.

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    11. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Interesting stuff Julian. I'm evaluating RP for some small, relatively intricate low volume parts for a medical application. It's looking pretty competitive.

      Andrew

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