Case Study: Plastic Molding DFMAriel Pollock Star
Case Study: Plastic Molding DFM
It’s not uncommon for companies to seek a device manufacturer after having completed the prototype development phase. That’s because they mistakenly assume that the product development team has manufacturability in mind. On the contrary however, experience shows that during development, engineers will focus on design outputs to meet the design inputs. And not enough focus goes into product manufacturability as is necessary.
It is absolutely critical to involve the device manufacturer from early on in the design phase. Otherwise, companies run the risk of developing products that will have issues with manufacturability that pose serious challenges in later stages.
This study presents such a case, where the customer approached Quasar with a completely developed product design, with manufacturability issues. Moreover, we present how these were resolved, advancing the product successfully to mass manufacturing.
Background & Challenge
Care should be taken throughout the initial development stages, to ensure smooth transition from design to mass manufacturing during technology transfer. However this should not burden the design team, as it requires the know-how of an experienced manufacturer.
The customer, a cosmetic devices company, approached Quasar with a fully designed product in order to begin the technology transfer stage and proceed with and manufacturing an initial quantity of 1,000 units for trial approval. While reviewing the device designs provided by the customer, Quasar’s engineering team identified a number of problems with product manufacturability. These issues needed to be addressed first, in order to proceed with the manufacturing. The challenge for Quasar was to propose realistic solutions to achieve a manufacturable design, while creating minimal change in the product itself.
Problem Evaluation & Proposed Solutions
Using best design for manufacturability (DFM) practices, Quasar’s engineering team identified a major problem in the process of transporting many elements to a small area. In addition, to a problem with the connection between numerous plastic components making the assembly process unsustainable.
Quasar’s engineering team brought these findings to the client’s attention, along with two possible solutions, each with its own advantages. First solution required minimal design changes and could be quickly implemented preventing a delay in launching the product and entering the market on time. This solution did not provide the most efficient option in the long run. Second solution proposed, required a change in the design and required more time to plan and implement, but in the long term would reduce production costs.
Quasar was able to provide two specific and realistic solutions to the customer. The customer opted for the first, quicker solution due to regulatory approval constraints and time to market schedule. However the second solution was kept for use in the future, when more time will be available and larger production runs will be required.
Some characteristics that made Quasar’s proposed solution a viable option for the customer:
- The proposed solutions for the plastic parts which exhibited the issues, didn’t result in any changes to the application or functionality of the final product.
- Enabling of easy transportation of the elements needed to enter the narrow space.
- Significant improvement to the compatibility and connection of the different plastic components.
- A future proof solution for the manufacturing line, making it adaptable to the customer’s needs. The production line was set up as a sustainable assembly process with a high yield in production. Allowing for production of increased quantities and a more efficient production process in the long term.
In the case described here, Quasar was brought into the project at a very late stage. Even so, Quasar’s engineering team was able to overcome the challenges, providing the customer with cost effective engineering solutions for the plastic molding that helped meet the timeframe and fulfilled technical requirements. This is a testament to Quasar’s technical know-how and ability to provide specialized solutions beyond simply taking a product from concept to production.
Had Quasar’s engineering team been involved from early in the design process, the situation would be much different. The product could have entered the market up to three months sooner than originally scheduled. Moreover, the design would have excellent manufacturability and be more efficient to produce in increased quantities to mass production.
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