Here at Solid Design Works, we feel it is important to pursue every angle and revenue stream in order to provide our clients with the most comprehensive suite of services for improving efficiency in their automation operations. Beyond engineering consulting, hourly contracting & turnkey system development, SDW has begun a new, proprietary product development initiative.
As we develop several new industrial automation products (stay tuned for the grand unveiling!), I felt it would benefit other designers to get a glimpse into our product development process and hopefully glean useful tips & tricks!
All good product designs start with extensive brainstorming, rigorous cross-disciplinary conceptual reviews and rudimentary model development to bring less obvious issues to light early on in the process.
After initial component selection and the conceptual design efforts described above, the next steps involve fleshing out fab parts for prototype testing. Focus on low cost sheet metal parts with minimal bend operations. Add plenty of cutouts for cable routing (anywhere you think might possibly need it) and be sure to oversize clearance holes for added flexibility during assembly. Taking these measures will ensure low cost, rapid prototype parts with maximum flexibility for testing.
Finally, after prototype parts are on order, prepare for several weeks of testing and retesting to properly vet all possible situations. Once the prototype has been thoroughly validated and all possible lessons learned, its time to return to the design table and finalize components for the 1st article production run. Hopefully your final renderings will come out look clean and sharp to help clients to best understand your vision.