Companies that are looking to improve the quality of their engineering for manufacturing come to us when they are:
Creative Mechanisms Solutions
We are a team of experience mechanical engineers that specialize in mechanisms. We use our talent and experience to conceptualize multiple solutions to a mechanical problem. When the best solution is identified the team goes to work to engineer that solution for manufacturing. There are a multitude of details that go into making a part and a product manufacturable. The key focus though is designing an elegant solution that has the fewest number of parts and the easiest assembly possible to deliver the lowest product cost.
Developing a product that has the lowest number of parts possible can sometimes require parts that have complicated geometries. Complicated parts can be manufactured but they need to be engineered precisely so that they are reliable and consistent. If it is an injection molded part, every surface must be evaluated for removal from the tool. Every area of the part has to be scrutinized to ensure even wall thickness that allow the plastic to flow through every cavity of the mold and then cool proportionally so no “sink marks” or “knit lines” affect the integrity or cosmetics of the part. Other manufacturing processes have their own intricacies that need to be addressed in a similar manner. You need engineers that are experienced and well-seasoned with a history of successful designs and experiences that they can bring to the process.
Once all the parts are designed, they need to be assembled in an efficient manner. Designing the assembly of the product is an important aspect of Engineering for Manufacturing. Upside down assembly is an important concept that an experienced engineer will utilize. All the parts are assembled into the top half of a product in such a manner that everything is held in place properly and can often be tested before the bottom is put in place and the unit is fully assembled.
We have had many clients come to us with product designs that they are unhappy with from an engineering for manufacturing perspective. One client came to us with a mechanism that had 15 parts. It was very hard to assemble the pieces and the resulting function was not desirable. We were able to condense that mechanism down to 4 parts with an optimal function. It took several iterations and some extraordinary engineering utilizing our specialty of developing living hinged parts in polypropylene. The living hinge design allowed one injection molded part to serve multiple functions eliminating the need for metal springs and other mechanical parts. This is taking engineering for manufacturing to the next level.
Creative Mechanisms, is a world renowned expert in ideation, concept development, new product engineering/development, prototyping, and bringing ideas to life. They have a unique and enviable ability to immediately connect with their clients ideas, and turn those ideas into realities. This firm is especially skilled at developing products that are economic to manufacture, yet offer high value.
Engineering for manufacturing is the process of providing the information the manufacturer needs to produce the product. Typically, that information takes the form of 3-D CAD files. These files define every part with all the detail necessary for the manufacturing process. The files also display the assembly of those parts to show the complete product, list a bill of materials (BOM), and show an exploded view. The manufacturing process to be used to make each part requires that each part be design by an engineer who has a thorough understanding of that manufacturing process. In addition to designing a part that can be produced, good engineering for manufacturing focuses on cost reduction and reliability. Reducing the parts count and simplifying the assembly process play important parts of engineering for manufacturing.
Plastic injection molding factories used to require 2-D control drawings, but most now only require 3-D CAD files to make their molds today. The molds are CNC-cut directly from the CAD files. Some industries do require full sets of 2-D drawings, which can be expensive to produce. Many sheet metal vendors specify 2-D drawings with tolerances specified for all parts and also require that the Bill of Materials and the exploded view accompany the drawings.
Manufacturing problems vary greatly, so please call us to discuss your specific issues. We have helped customers get UL certification as well as Child Resistant Closure Certification. We have an in-house testing laboratory where we make custom test fixtures to test product and prototypes to your standards.
For injection molded products, we work closely with our manufacturing partner, Harmony Systems & Service. You can’t beat this partnership for a design-through-manufacturing process.. We stay with your product and help solve any problems that arise through the manufacturing process. Carl Welhener, the operations manager at Harmony, says:
“We manufacture consumer goods designed by Creative Mechanisms every day in our factory. The designs are so well conceived, prototyped, and tested, that the transition from design to SOP (start of production) go flawlessly. The Creative Mechanisms design team really understands how to translate ideas into an executable design for manufacturing. Many unnecessary manufacturing costs can be removed during the design process with the right design partner. Creative Mechanisms is that partner for our company.”
We take communication and transparency seriously. For every project in which we are engaged, we create a Basecamp portal. All communication about the project happens on this easy-to-use, web-based platform. We upload pictures, videos, and screen shots at every stage of progress. Each of our employees and everyone on the client’s team has access to the project on Basecamp. This provides complete visibility. The client chooses how much or how little oversite on the project they desire. We post questions and information as often as necessary, at least a minimum of once a week.
Many companies in the product development business try to be all things to all people by offering a broad range of services: they generalize. We have chosen to narrow our focus: we specialize. We are mechanism experts. We define a mechanism as anything with a moving part. It can be as simple as a living hinge or as complex as a robot. We also help companies take their product development to the next level in three main areas. We work with companies trying to speed up their product development process either to get product to market faster or get more products developed per year. We help companies increase their innovation by developing more innovative product concepts and mechanisms or by innovative engineering that improves the user experience or lowers cost. Lastly, we help companies improve their product turnover to manufacturing by providing better engineering for manufacturing. Our focus in these areas allows us to specialize in next level product development.
Creative Mechanisms started business in 1985 as a “model shop” that only made prototypes. Limitations of technology to a milling machine, lathe, and hand tools made the process labor intensive. With such a rich history in the prototyping business, we know the best way to make just about anything. Of course, we have evolved with technology and use all the latest tools. We have FDM 3-D printing, CNC machines, and a complete machine shop. We are experts in machining polypropylene living hinged prototypes, a unique capability we have not seen anyone match.