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DESIGN COMPONENTS Springs, Gas Springs and Dampers

Engineers use prototypes to reduce costs and to make parts more manufacturable

Pete Marut and Dale Pereira offer advice on how engineering metal stampings and springs can improve a product’s manufacturability

costs and very long lead times, stamped metal parts and springs frequently need to adjust to other parts' restrictions. This makes prototyping a very important part of the design development process. No matter what the industry, each project should


begin by establishing lines of communication to get an in- depth understanding of the design, the objectives, and material requirements. A discussion of part dimension

ne fact of life in the metal stamping and springs industry is that metal components are often the last to be sourced. Since plastic parts cannot be changed without significant mould

tolerance is essential. Some tight tolerances may add significant cost, and may not be critical; others may be achievable at no additional cost. Understanding the key dimensions and most the

critical tolerances of the part is extremely valuable to both parties when developing the final part print. Is raw material cost a main concern, or is tooling cost their biggest issue? Getting this information up front is essential to develop a prototype or series of prototypes to meet their needs. With a brand new product, enough detail is needed to work out the best material to make a prototype that can be manufactured in a production scenario. The key is to use the prototyping process to identify ways to reduce costs and make the part manufacturable at the production phase in as short a time frame as possible. Prototypes vary tremendously depending upon the

project, and a company may be called upon to produce everything from a one-piece prototype up to 10,000 pieces, for those parts where repeatability is a must. Prototyping should be used to initiate a dialogue on how

to steer the project in ways that assure manufacturing consistency and reduce cost. Engineers may call out areas where they have concerns, point out exceptions, or look at dimensions and features that can be made without exorbitant tooling or added secondary operations. In those instances where the designed part does not meet a particular need, engineers would use the prototyping process to request a material change or redesign the part to increase its strength. Or, if a material is called for that is not available without making an inordinately high material purchase, engineers may suggest a material

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