Prototype Construction
Aug23

Prototype Construction

There are several options for translating a virtual or non-functional prototype into a functional product prototype.  The prototyping method a company chooses for their product will depend on the audience, purpose and budget.  Best results are achieved by a complementary partnership between the product’s parent company and a team of outside experts.  The knowledge of an expert team will supplement your company’s goals with the skill and experience needed to complete the project in a timely and affordable manor. Ideally a series of virtually engineered designs, on CAD or other software, will precede the functional prototyping process.  In cases where an previous prototype exists and there are no digital data for the design it is possible to scan the item and repair the design.  In this scenario it is important to consult an expert to see what the best solution is. This is a comprehensive list of functional prototype creation methods: Selective Laser Sintering These prototypes are made of strong, durable polyamide material that allows for a broad range of functional testing. Typical Uses: Snap fits; working hinges; lighting elements, ventilation systems, high thermal loads (with glass filling); and many others Vacuum Casting These prototypes are ideally used for functional plastic prototypes, in quantities less than 20. With a vast selection of materials to choose from, including various polyurethanes, allow these prototypes to be used for functional testing in various conditions. Tooling in Aluminum Molds Aluminum tooling is great for rapid and cost effective production of quality components.  Other mold tools can take a minimum of 3 months to deliver; subsequently traditional injection molding can be extremely expensive and time consuming.  With the speed and reasonable costs of aluminum molds designers can experiment and produce more products inventive.  By using aluminum mold tools it is easy to create a fully functional prototype in the materials for manufacture without excessive cost.  Due to current Aluminum grades and strength, this type of mold can produce between 100,000 and 1,000,000. RIM (Reaction Injection Molding) This method produces premium quality plastic parts with a short lead-time.  RIM is ideal for large components in quantities of 10 to 2000.  The process uses low pressure injection technology.  RIM molding is used often in the car industry because of its quality and...

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Improving an Existing Product
Aug08

Improving an Existing Product

Developing the next generation of a product can be daunting for a company already operating at full capacity.  DCI Engineering has experience analyzing existing designs to identify necessary improvements for next generation products.  The strategic prototyping process employed by DCI  minimizes the total cost of  product development by optimizing production processes for cost reduction, while maintaining high build quality.  Partnering with the experts at DCI ensures that all design and prototyping needs will be met for rapid completion of an improved next generation product. EMC Corporation is a leading global technology company that develops, delivers, and supports information infrastructure and  technologies and solutions.  They were under strict time constraints to due a predetermined global launch date.  They asked DCI to improve the design for manufacturing, reducing the unit cost, adding features, and preparing it for  scaled manufacturing.  The project was completed before the deadline, exceeding EMC Corporation’s expectations in terms of quality and cost. Having a 100% secure environment is paramount in order to protect intellectual property.  DCI works with each company to ensure that all documentation regarding ownership is filed in a timely and complete manner.  DCI operates in a high security location in Massachusetts and all information stays onsite.  You can be assured that your ideas, the minute they are share with DCI, are protected by a team of knowledgeable data security...

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Prototyping Process
Aug08

Prototyping Process

Successful prototyping requires a systematic process with specific deliverables and reviews at each development phase; this enables continuous judgment and open decision making on product scope, risk, schedule and budget. The following is the description of an ideal phased prototyping process: Phase 0:  Concept and Feasibility Phase 1:  Design, Prototype Engineering, Assembly and Test Phase 2:  Engineering-controlled Production of Advanced Prototypes for Field Testing Phase 3:  Preproduction and Manufacturing Phase 4:  Sustaining Engineering Phase 0:  Concept and Feasibility In this initial phase, engineers should review the project requirements, develop a comprehensive plan of action, and integrate all key parties into the development: the Client, designers, engineers and supply chain specialists.  A specialist should run an investigation of alternative product concepts and associated manufacturing methods, followed by an evaluation of these using simulations and physical models.  Developing conceptual, mechanical and electrical layouts to identify risk areas and generate a preliminary estimated BOM (bill of material) allows experts to determine overall feasibility.  At the conclusion of Phase 0, The models and concepts are discussed in order to select a concept based on the feasibility and risk findings.  This phase is concluded with revised estimates and a project plan for subsequent stages. Phase 1:  Design, Prototype Engineering, Assembly and Test During Phase 1, The design and analysis are completed, prototype-level documentation is generated and materials are procured.  Finally a alpha prototype units are constructed for internal testing to validate function and performance according to an agreed-upon test plan.  At the conclusion of Phase 1, a comprehensive review of the prototype design and test results should be produced. Phase 2:  Engineering-controlled Production of Advanced Prototypes for Field Testing During Phase 2, final design and documentation adjustments are completed based on test results in Phase 1.  Advanced prototypes are built by skilled engineering technicians.  Extensive field-application trials are conducted jointly between engineers and the product owner.  If any issues arise during this testing, additional design changes and associated documentation updates are made.  At the conclusion of Phase 2, a comprehensive review is conducted and a production ready documentation package for manufacture should be prepared. Phase 3:  Preproduction and Manufacturing Phase 3 consists of customizing the manufacturing process and allows for the scaling up of product capacity.  Continual assessment, quantification and reports of Supply Chain effectiveness are crucial. Phase 4:  Sustaining Engineering During Phase 4, although thorough due diligence in phases 1 and 2 will reduce the chance, the customer may need ongoing engineer support due to various reasons in phases 3 and 4: (1) the product may need some modifications after actual use by a wide range of customers under diverse operating conditions that may not...

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Prototype Design
Aug07

Prototype Design

Prototype design is the process of identifying which materials and manufacturing processes are most appropriate and efficient for production of the prototype.   The form and process each new prototype takes will vary based on the level of complexity, cost of fabrication, and volume being produced.  Prototyping is a multifaceted process that requires the experience and knowledge of designers and engineers alike.  Prototype design requires communication among the inventor, engineer, and designer. These programs allow experts to construct a virtual compilation of all required measurements, facets, materials, and processes.  Some programs are used for general design and others are catered to the specific needs of an industry. 3D Design Software Solid Works Enterprise MathCad Pro/Engineer AutoCad AutoCad Electrical MentorGraphics Cosmos Works...

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Design for Manufacturing

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is the practice of prototyping a product to optimize all manufacturing functions in order to save costs and ensure quality. What does the manufacturing process entail? Manufacturing is a highly integrated process with several important steps.  There are many steps, above that of simple prototypes, involved in manufacturing a product for commercialization.  The tasks include fabrication, assembly, testing, procurement, all the way to distribution and repair. Many of the key manufacturing steps can be planned for and drastically improved by implementing quality DFM practices. What does DFM affect? DFM, when performed properly by specialists, will define and sharpen the exact manufacturing process to reduce costs and improve quality.  These improvements allow the company to ensure reliability, immediate regulatory compliance, product safety, and customer satisfaction on behalf of their product.  All of these attributes as well as a shorter time to market for a company are proven results of quality DFM planning. DFM and Concurrent Engineering This is the process of concurrently prototyping products and their manufacturing processes.  This practice is a strong option for anyone interested in reducing product development time, lessening cost and improving transition into production for quick time to market. Requirements for DFM Prototyping for manufacturing is a rigorous process that requires strong communication among designers and engineers as well as a solid understanding of the goals for a new product. Everyone in the product development group must have strong knowledge of manufacturing with specific regard to design processes. Principles of Successful DFM Analyze and understand all problems with current or previous products to correct and construct a superior generation Easy parts production, material processing and product assembly should be a primary design consideration. Stick to specific design guidelines for each part there should be a specified production method. If possible concurrently design production tooling processes and molds along with the product to reduce costs, time and resources. Know what tolerances are optimal for the design so that the prototype will be appropriately durable. Ensure the parts you use are quality.  This table illustrates the cost of using poor parts to construct a product. Level of completion     Cost to find & repair defect the part itself                     X at sub-assembly               10 X at final assembly             100 X at the dealer/distributor 1,000 X at the customer                10,000 X Each step further a product advances with poor parts it is ten times more expensive to locate and repair the defect.  It is imperative that products are originally built of quality Strategically decide product attributes to use the least amount of cutting tools.  This will alleviate wastes manufacturing costs and...

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