For market-driven companies like Select Comfort, time-to-market from original concept and design is the critical factor to overcome in producing more complex products. To compress the design and production cycle for new bedding products--including a pump design for its SLEEP NUMBER(r) beds--Select Comfort has turned to advanced CAD and 3D modeling.
Dan Koughan, project engineer and a lead designer at Select Comfort, says his company has moved to 3D modeling "across the board" because it can handle more complex design tasks easily. In the past, designers used a variety of CAD packages, including 2D tools, but had limited design tools for creating complex surfaces and knitting together assembly components.
Koughan says that a big advantage of 3D is the amount of detail that can be built into the model. Complex shapes can be created and full assembly features provide tools for resolving dimensioning and sizing issues between components. Visualization and animation tools show how the assemblies fit together, and play a big part in reducing cycle time by illustrating the details of the design to sales and marketing, manufacturing and suppliers.
New Pump Design
To design sleeker, quieter, more powerful pumps for its new generation of SLEEP NUMBER(r) beds introduced earlier this year, Select Comfort utilized Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire from PTC for the 3D product design. The beds allow individuals to select a number between zero and 100 to adjust the firmness and support for each side of the mattress.
The in-house design team for the pump design included three people: an industrial designer/project leader and engineers for both the plastic components and electronics. CAD design and 3D modeling contributed to the success of the program by helping the team compress the product cycle from concepts to a finished design in twelve months.
"We have many components with tolerance stack-ups and electronic assemblies with tight design requirements," says Koughan. "We were able to work out the details and tolerances in the CAD system, and accelerated the design process by tightly controlling the design of mating components using interference checks to validate the design."
Visualization and animation tools in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire are helping Select Comfort engineers cut design time.
Koughan says they were able to move quickly from product visuals to database development and the details of the design. The in-house team designed all of the integral components, and released a total of eleven injection molding tools, with multiple inserts for the pump components.
A major factor in compressing the design schedule was using visualization and animation tools to keep "a full circle of communications" between marketing, manufacturing and outside suppliers. Since each of these locations also used Pro/ENGINEER, Koughan says they were able to send a database that each could evaluate and use for design tasks. This eliminated the need to export drawing sets and/or images for the different groups, and minimized travel time to keep the design and decision-making process moving forward.
Lakeland Tool and Engineering and Phillips Electronics also participated in the project. Phillips did most of the plastics design and layout for the remote control unit and both companies--using the same design tools to easily share and mock-up designs--helped the design process go quickly and efficiently.
Koughan concedes that it has been a painstaking process of strictly moving the 3D modeling for all of the company's CAD and product development. But to maintain growth as a company, he says Select Comfort needed to formally structure product development and design components that would be right the first time.
"In keeping with the increasing pace of a market-driven company, we had product designed at the same time we decided on colors."