Leveraging Additive Manufacturing to Bridge the Gap between Your Design and Manufacturing Teams

[fa icon="calendar"] March 18, 2019 / by Matt Luther

The Design and Manufacturing Process

When talking to key stake holders about the design and manufacturing processes within their organizations, most tell us that they are successive phases of a single operation, with the ultimate goal of creating an acceptable final product. “Acceptable” means a lot of different things to different people, but one constant theme of acceptable is “on time”. 

The global economy is extremely competitive and the ability to launch products on schedule is critical to the success of all manufacturers.  With time being such a critical success factor for all manufacturers, the question becomes: Is there a way to make the design and manufacturing phases more concurrent rather than successive? By implementing additive manufacturing technology the answer may surprise you.

Traditional Workflow

In a traditional product design workflow, a team of designers and engineers work on a project to create a final assembly, which is more often than not, a grouping of individual components that will be manufactured separately and combined to create the final product. The challenge that manufacturing design teams often face is that each of these individual components require individual tooling to be built. More often than not, the manufacturing team isn’t exposed to the final assembly until it has been released to manufacturing – causing an entirely new design phase to begin in which jigs and fixtures have to be created to ensure the accuracy of the manufactured parts. Creating jigs and fixtures for complex geometry can be extremely challenging and can lead to costly delays in actually moving forward with manufacturing. Our customers tell us that this process can take anywhere from 2-12 weeks to complete.

Traditional Product Development Cycle

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A Better Way

By implementing additive manufacturing technologies into your design workflow, the design team can not only reap the benefits of prototyping to improve and test their designs, but also share those iterative prototypes with the manufacturing team so that they can begin their tooling design process concurrently with the product design process.  With this workflow, manufacturing engineers can discover issues that could prevent delays much further along in the process.

The whole goal of prototyping is to discover problems early in the design process – why not apply that principle to manufacturing design?  If the manufacturing design team can complete 50-75% of their tooling design prior to the release of the final product to manufacturing, that can provide weeks of time savings to the organization. Additionally, by proving out tooling/jigs/fixture design with rapid prototypes, manufacturing teams can be certain that their designs are correct prior to investing in production tooling.  All of this can be done quickly and affordably with the additive manufacturing technology available today.

Product Development / Manufacturing Cycle Utilizing 3D Prototyping

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3D Model of Fixture Concept  <------------->  3D Printed Fixture

So What Now?

At TPM we have over 40 years of experience helping manufacturers improve upon their design process. With access to the most comprehensive array of digital design and additive manufacturing solutions in the industry we are well positioned to help you leverage this technology to help you bridge the gap between design and manufacturing today.  Let us know when we can set up a time to discuss this with your organization.

 

Learn more about this subject by attending our webinar on October 24th at 10:00 AM.

Topics: 3D Printing

Matt Luther

Written by Matt Luther

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