Normally, I’m a Technical Manager at SOLIDWORKS, but this summer, I’ll be spending my days playing the role of an obnoxious CAD know-it-all on the URB-E design team. I’ll be getting on the nerves of my teammates by constantly demanding them to up their game, forcing them to adopt new and efficient CAD features, and pushing them to output the best looking and functioning designs possible – anything but the status quo. Hilariously, my co-workers claim this new role will not be far off from the real me. Continual improvement is kind of my life’s theme after all.
Kaizen events have become a popular way to ensure continual improvement out on the shop floor for manufacturing. Unfortunately, the practice isn’t as common among design teams. Too often, the culture follows the thought process of “this is the way I was taught to do it.” Though that workflow might have been great 5-10 years ago, you might now be missing out on 1,000-2,500 SOLIDWORKS enhancements that have since been released and potentially save you all kinds of time.
This is why our most successful customers always attend their reseller’s launch events each year, participate in local user groups, and even host their own internal user groups to regularly review design practices, new functionality, and faster ways to get their jobs done. SOLIDWORKS even provides free video training paths on MySolidWorks to encourage our entire subscription customer community to continue to learn new things about the tools they use everyday. Change and improvement is usually always sparked by ornery designers who won’t settle for less than the best like the character I’ll be representing on the URB-E design team. Every company needs someone like that (in my opinion ?).
You’ve already heard from Todd in a previous post in this series, our team’s veteran been-there-done-that designer. He knows all the standards and has all the tribal knowledge to ensure smooth product launches, but he’s also a little conservative and set in his ways. For example, Todd has a bunch of knowledge in sheet metal design. It’s a cost-effective process since the materials and fabrication methods are inexpensive. It also saves us time as we have an inventory of sheet metal in our shop as well as the laser cutters and press brakes to cut and form the parts. So that’s exactly what Todd chose when he designed this rear wheel fender, but is this ideal for our stylish new scooter?
The design was sufficient for an initial prototype, but there was no way I was going to let this design live any longer than that. My recommendation to Todd was to use SOLIDWORKS surfacing tools to design a slick-looking plastic injection molded fender. Todd, as expected, rejected the idea. He cited costs and timelines, but I knew his true hesitation was due to his lack of surface modeling experience. To him (like most others) surface modeling is a mysterious environment that takes magical wizardry to master.
During our tour, I’ll be proving this common misconception wrong. Surfacing is way easier than most think, and it offers way more flexibility to our design workflows than traditional solid modeling features. I’ll be walking the audience through an easy-to-follow process to design a much more stylish fender that will snap perfectly into our assembly without the need of any fasteners in less than 20 features (8 of which will be unique surfacing features).
Not only does the design look and function better, it will also provide manufacturing cost and time savings as we ramp up to mass production. In fact, I’ll also be spending a few minutes running both vacuum forming and injection molding simulations to see which will better fit my design. A quick check like this worked into every designer’s process can save countless hours/days of back and forth communications with suppliers while trying to iron out unexpected design vs manufacturing issues, and it only takes minutes and very little training to to take advantage of these features.
If these types of opportunities for improvement interest you, please make sure to register for one of our upcoming seminars in a city near you. Whether you’re a designer that’s always bugging your coworkers to improve their practices or you’re a manager interested in graduating your design team to the next level of productivity, you’ll have plenty to absorb at these events that you’ll be able to implement as soon as your return to the office. Keep an eye out for Sasi’s upcoming post that will take a deeper dive into our simulation capabilities.