The award-winning Ford Escape instrument panel design has a complex geometry with changing wall thicknesses, making it difficult to meet required mechanical properties using solid injection molding processes. Creating the panel in the MuCell microcellular foam process reduced weight by more than 1 lb, improved mechanical properties, reduced cycle time, and lowered the part’s cost by $3 per car.
Ann, I assume your statement regarding aluminum or steel in the first paragraph is incorrect considering the text of the rest of the article. It is an interesting one, by the way. Recently there was an article on this site on Metal Injection Molding (MIM), which had a poor reputaiton, but has seen great improvements.
One observation is about the statement about increased pressure on manufacturing. This is a common statement, so my comment is not aimed at your article, particularly. There would be no increased pressure without advances in science and engineering. The statemnt seems to imply that these industries are standing still and being pushed by someone else. In reality US industry is among, if not the most , efficient in the world.
Another interesting point in your article is about the Scientific Molding process. I once worked for a company that made simulators, primarily for training. These included flight, military as well as industrial simulators. In general, the simulators were very accurate. They could often be driven faster than real-time. A secondard market was found for the industrial simulators in plant control. The simulator could run many scenarios with different feed stocks, etc. This would allow adjustment to the process before acutally consuming anything.
Finally, your article points out the need for design for manufacturing. Before the move toward outsourcing, there was a move toward integration. If you could design a part to be more easily manufactured, and you did it in the design phase, it was a very inexpensive change. If this had to be addressed later, it would be very costly. Perhaps we are moving back.
I heard an example of this recently. A manufacturer of space heaters, I think it was, brought their manufacturing back to the US. By a small redesign, one that eliminated a lot of fasteners, they were able to lower the time to manufacture. Since their market was mostly here, and since they could make changes to respond to market conditions more quickly, they have improved their competitiveness. A god example, I think.
The use of Scientific Molding is a great way to produce repeatable parts on multiple machines. Documentation of separation of pack and hold as well as a documented gate seal study helps to produce parts consistently on different machines.
In regards to aluminum tooling, what is the effect of glass filled reins on the aluminum mold? Often times, it is necessary to use glass filled resins for metal replacement projects.
How else can you design a part to be manufactured without understanding the capabilities and limitations of the manufacturing process? Evidently it has been done, but it doesn't make sense. It seems that others have thought differently over the years, which is probably the basis for the whole "DFM" group of consultants who try to solve problems for those designing hard to manufacture parts.
Injection molding has been one of those areas where the first step of part design has been to determine the capabilities needed to produce the part features while designing those same features. That would determine which supplier was selected as well as what features of the part could be included. An analogy is deciding what one would ,ake for dinner based on what food was on hand and what was available to cook it with.
Theoption of including secondary operation types of actions while the part is molded is quite interesting, and it would allow a number of additional options for the initial design process.
I don't make any claim of originality about the assertions in my previous posting, nor that the concepts presented are that new. In fact, my intended point was "how else could you do it? The idea of keepingproduction isolated from design and engineering has always been a poor choice. At least, I think that we are all aware that it is a poor choice.
I agree with William--when I first heard of DFM, my initial reaction was--"as opposed to what? Design Not For Manufacturing? Design Without Manufacturing?" DFT made sense, and later, DFR (R = either reassembly or recycling). OTOH, manufacturing processes, especially on highly automated lines, have gotten highly complex, as have some products, so more tailored DFM makes sense.
William, I think the analogy you used is apt, and I definitely welcome the prevalence of idea that good design is by definition design for manufacture, but that precludes the fact that there are so many poorly designed products in the marketplace. How many times have you seen an injection moulded product with significant sinking? or another with a level of fabrication that clearly could be vastly simplified with snapfits?
So, to take your analogy a little bit further, if you were making a meal out of the ingredients in your cupboard, and you were intending to create a curry, but only had salt, pepper, tumeric, milk and chicken, you would do the best you could with the ingredients that matched the recipe. But what if you had other ingredients that don't normally feature in a curry, like bicarbonate of soda, or vinegar, or butter? They aren't on the list, so you overlook how they could be used in your best-effort "design". If you had the time and inclination, you could research how these other ingredients could produce much more vibrant flavour combinations and thus produce a better assimilation of the real thing.
But that still isn't really analogous of the DFM issue, To be a proper analogy, not only would the ingredients have to be throughly explored for suitability, the cooking of the dinner would have to be streamlined for bulk output, so you'd figure out your prep times, brebatch certain ingredients, cook everything in one pot instead of four, and steam your rice in a double boiler over the top. These are all simple efficiency tweaks, and it is merely another form of tweak that brings the concern for efficiency into the design process instead of the re-design process where mistakes and time wasted are corrected after the fact or through manufacturing hacks on the production line.
If you are a good designer, are you already implementing DFM? Well most likely yes, but it is possible that you aren't and the DFM takes place at the design checking stage, where people with more experience of manufacturing provide their input, but if you are a bad designer, then you definitely aren't taking any consideration of the manufacturing process (or at least as little as is necessary to develop a product) and that means a lot of wasted time, money, resources and ultimately really poor, crappy products that are nothing more than future landfill.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies.
You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived.
So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.