Irvine, CA--Newport Corporation, manufacturer of scientific and laboratory instruments, switched to SolidWorks mechanical-design software to improve both its business process and engineering. Its goals: reduce product-development cost and time, reduce design errors, and improve designers' ability to rapidly create products with ultra-precise specifications and within tight tolerances.
"Previously, we were designing in 2-D," says Michael Francisco, product designer on Newport's Component Development Team. "Maintaining large 2-D design layouts easily lent itself to errors. Part relationships and interferences could easily be missed, and some errors wouldn't be discovered until a costly prototype was produced. Plus, sales, management, and customers couldn't easily visualize these complex 2-D images and we would end up executing multiple designs and prototypes."
Newport's designers felt the solution was a solid-modeling design system because it would eliminate visualization difficulties and streamline the design-to-production process. Francisco says Newport chose SolidWorks because it was easy to learn and use, had a familiar Windows interface, and offered all the Windows functionality and features that the company uses every day.
"Designing ultra-precise stages used to take months, with machining of multiple prototypes," Francisco says. "With SolidWorks, we are now developing products where the first prototype is the only prototype and, in fact, we saved the price of the software on a single design."
Once a design is complete, detailed drawings are created with SolidWorks' drafting functions. The solid model geometries are sent to manufacturing, where engineers use SolidWorks to design production tooling directly around the original solid models. The tooling and component geometries are then sent to Mastercam for the development of toolpaths for machine parts.
Newport expects to reduce design-cycle time by 20 to 30%, and is already experiencing productivity improvements. The company designed a Pockels Cell Holder in less than half the time it would have taken previously, and the project included rigorous engineering analyses based on the solid model.