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Finding solutions to making products for clients is what Plunkett Associates do best, therefore optimisation is an important tool for us. We can optimise for almost anything, although the tools we can draw on vary substantially depending on what we pick.
Probably the most common goal for clients is one of price reduction. In this case altering the geometry to make manufacturing easier and hence less costly to produce is an option we can look at. However, trade offs have to be considered as in de-featuring a part we will almost certainly affect its function and hence its perceived value.
So the preferred strategy is more likely to consist of methods that could reduce cost without changing the parts functionality, and this demands knowledge of how it will be produced; something we can help you with.
Another common goal is to reduce weight. This is common in aerospace and often these days in automotive. Yet as we look for more sustainable products and start to consider issues such as energy consumption and whole life costs this becomes applicable everywhere.
There are some interesting tools to help us as well. A product called Solid Thinking Inspire lets us analyse the geometry. We are able to subject it to the relevant loading conditions and view the optimum location for any material present. (See case study).
Whilst the results can be quite organic, they represent the ideal material placement and can be used to construct a design that may be manufactured. Access to additive manufacturing techniques has allowed some of these ‘ideal’ geometries to be produced, however, that can lead to further optimisation on cost! Please talk to us if you would like to know more.
Another parameter is time. Optimising for speed of production may or may not have cost benefits. A frequent cause could be to achieve a launch date or trade show where only certain aspects of the product are required. Stripping away what is not needed, fabricating or changing the manufacturing process are the most common options.
We have much experience in producing exhibition models, prototype and production parts within strict deadlines, so if time is your issue please use our knowledge and experience to help you with your optimisation.
We also have Solidworks Simulation Professional at our disposal for a variety of exercises be they strength or thermal, all before we manufacture a prototype.
In short, design optimisation can be great fun. It can turn up some surprising results and most likely a string of contradictions that then need to be assessed. Lighter is possible but in what time? Time can be reduced, but only by sacrificing strength. Life cycle cost kept down, but only for increased initial outlay.
Every project has different objectives, contact us about yours, we will be happy to discuss them with you.