Original Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Engineers, manufacturers and supply chain specialists – what’s something they all have in common? They’re looking for quality.
Quality is a critical component in every stage of the design and manufacturing process, and it’s often at war with another driving factor in virtually every engineering project: cost.
Many people think that low costs and high quality can’t go hand-in-hand when bringing a product to market, or that some middle ground has to be attained. But what if that wasn’t the case?
Here are three seemingly straightforward, but critical tips for improving your part’s quality while also cutting down on both costs and lead-time.
Sound too good to be true? Read on and learn how you can incorporate this strategy into your own design process!
#1. Include Key Dimensions in your Design
More and more, manufacturers are receiving prints with limited or minimal dimensions listed out in the design file.
While the manufacturers can go in and draw all the dimensions on behalf of the customer, there is a major drawback the customer should consider – a manufacturer can’t begin production on a part until they’ve mapped out all the necessary dimensions that their production and quality teams need.
Lead-times aside, it’s impossible to produce a quality part when the parameters that define “quality” aren’t mapped out prior to production, and while the manufacturer can add dimensions and tolerances to a part’s design, there’s something to be said about the value you get from collaborating with your supplier and it can go a long way in improving the overall quality of your part.
#2. Try to Make your Tolerances Relevant
Another seemingly simple way you can improve your part’s quality is by including relevant tolerances on a part’s design. This is more easily explained with an example.
Our team was creating a very thin part for a customer who had called out a high level of flatness as a tolerance. But because the part was so thin, and the machining processes it had to go through during production, it was nearly impossible to keep it as flat as the customer wanted.
But as the production team came to learn, this component they were making was ultimately going to be mounted onto a larger fixture, where it would lay flush.
Based on the part’s end application, the flatness tolerance that the customer specified became irrelevant. As long as it could be properly mounted to the fixture, there was no need to worry about flatness and the part could be considered acceptable even if there was warping as soon as it came out of the CNC machine.
#3. Capture a Machinist’s Point-of-View before Finalizing a Design for Production
A final way you can both improve your part’s quality and reduce lead times is by working closely with the production team before finalizing a part’s design for production.
To give you another example, while a customer of ours had designed a fairly complex part, it wasn’t anything our production team or machines couldn’t handle.
However, based on the way the customer had dimensioned the part on the print, it was incredibly hard for the production team to check tolerances. This eats up time, reduces efficiency, increases lead time, and makes it harder to produce a quality part.
A simple solution is communicating with the production team who can explain the particular machining process they would use for the part, and the customer can choose the part’s orientation based on how the production team will machine and check tolerances on the part. This is a relatively quick fix that can provide tons of added value.