Are you spending too much on prototyping? Learn how to save money! – Part 2

Moving forward from the last part of this article; we discussed two essential strategies that intend to keep more of your money in your pocket in the long run. To recap, we brought up Digital Prototype Methods and using CAD and simulation software, as well as using Desktop Printers. In this second part, we discuss three more strategies that not only aim to improve your prototype stage, but also the overall workflow.  

Simplify your Designs:

If you simply want to test the mechanical fit between two mating objects, why bother prototype the entire assembly and all part details? Your engineering team should be aware that adding holes, curvatures, slanted features, etc. can increase printing/machining time and complexity, which would most likely drive up the price. It can be useful to target specific features in your design for prototyping and testing.  

Collaborate with Manufacturing Early On:

Working alongside manufacturing during the design stage can be the most valuable decision you make for your team. It's essential to separate design from manufacturability. Although this may be straightforward, engineers and designers often construct complex designs that cannot be manufactured. That is why it's important to rely on manufacturing expertise early in the design stage and ensure manufacturing validation before the design has been completed. Not only will you be able to save on multiple prototype cycles, if manufacturing issues were to arise, but a lot of vital resources can be saved as a result of consulting ahead of time with manufacturing.  

Follow Manufacturing and Assembly Standards:

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) should be a common standard that is followed by your design team. This essential engineering standard allows teams to reduce material overhead and reduce costs, which is very important in the prototype and production stage.
  • DFM: Design for Manufacturing aims to reduce part manufacturing costs by reducing product complexity and optimizing the manufacturing process.
  • DFA: Design for Assembly aims to reduce part assembly costs by reducing the number of assembly operations. This may involve reducing the overall number of parts, etc.
  prototyping 2   Your decision to utilize this standard should be influenced by the fact that about 70% to 80% of manufacturing costs, quality, and cycle time is affected by the design of the product, whereas only 20% to 30% is affected by Manufacturing. Considering the importance of this standard, reviewing its guidelines is highly encouraged. Some of these guidelines are mentioned here:
  • Reduce the total number of parts
  • Design parts to be multi-functional
  • Develop a modular design
  • Design parts for multi-use
  • Use of standard components
  • Design for ease of Fabrication
These 5 strategies are beneficial to follow and practice through every design cycle. They not only will improve your prototype cycle time and reduce overall cost, but they also carry other benefits that help in providing successful design development from start to finish.  Following DFMA standards for example, will ensure that designs are manufacturable and not unnecessarily complex. Another added benefit, would be to use simulation software to improve your validation stage. In any case, following these strategies will not only help your organization save money in the prototype stage, but your entire development cycle can be drastically improved through them.   Taha Ramy, CID, B.ASc. Electrical Applications Specialist CAD MicroSolutions Inc. 65 International Boulevard, Toronto ON, M9W 6L9 Canada | T: (416) 775-9733