Designing Jigs and Fixtures

The design of jigs and fixtures is dependent on numerous factors which are analysed to achieve optimum output. Jigs should be made of rigid light materials to facilitate secure handling, as it has to be rotated severally to enable holes to be drilled from different angles. It is recommended that four feet should be provided for jigs that are not bolted on the machine tool, to enable the jig to wobble if not well positioned on the table and thereby alert the operator. Drill jigs provide procedures for proper location of the work-piece concerning the cutting tool, tightly clamp and rigidly support the work-piece during machining, and also guide the tool position and fasten the jig on the machine tool.

To achieve their expected objectives, jigs and fixtures consist of many elements:

  • Frame or body and base which has features for clamping
  • The accuracy and availability of indexing systems or plates
  • The extent of automation, capacity, and type of machine tool where jigs and fixtures will be employed
  • Bushes and tool guiding frames for jigs
  • The availability of locating devices in the machine for blank orientation and suitable positioning
  • Auxiliary elements
  • The strength of the machine tool under consideration
  • The precision level of the expected product
  • Fastening parts
  • The available safety mechanisms in the machine tool
  • The study of the fluctuation level of the machine tool

 

 

The factors below are to be reflected upon during design, production, and assembly of jigs and fixtures due to the targeted increase in throughput, quality of products, interchangeability, and more accuracy.

  • Guiding of tools for slim cutting tools like drills
  • Type of operations
  • Inspection requirements
  • Provision of reliable, rigid, and robust reinforcement to the blank
  • Production of jigs and fixtures with a minimum number of parts
  • Fast and accurate location of the jig or fixture blank
  • Rapid mounting and un-mounting of the work-piece from the jig or fixture
  • Set up time reduction
  • Standard and quality parts must be used
  • Reduction of lead time
  • Easy disposal of chips
  • Enhanced flexibility
Elements of Jigs and Fixtures

The significant features of Jigs and Fixtures are:

The body: The body is the most outstanding element of jigs and fixtures. It is constructed by welding of different slabs and metals. After the fabrication, it is often heat-treated for stress reduction as its main objective is to accommodate and support the job.

Clamping devices: The clamping devices must be straightforward and easy to operate, without sacrificing efficiency and effectiveness. Apart from holding the work-piece firmly in place, the clamping devices are capable of withholding the strain of the cutting tool during operations. The need for clamping the work-piece on the jig or fixture is to apply pressure and press it against the locating components, thereby fastening it in the right position for the cutting tools.

Locating devices: Thepin is the most popular device applied for the location of work-piece in jigs and fixtures.The pin’s shank is press-fitted or driven into a jig or fixture. The locating width of the pin is made bigger than the shank to stop it from being pressed into the jig or fixture body because of the weight of the cutting tools or work-piece. It is made with hardened steel.

Jig bushing or tool guide:Guiding parts like jig bushings and templates are used to locate the cutting tool relative to the component being machined. Jig bushes are applied in drilling and boring, which must be wear resistant, interchangeable, and precise. Bushes are mainly made of a reliable grade of tool steel to ensure hardening at a low temperature and also reduce the risk of fire crackling.

 

 

Selection of Materials

There is a wide range of materials from where jigs and fixtures could be made, to resist tear and wear, the materials are often tempered and hardened. Also, phosphor bronze and other non-ferrous metals, as well as composites, and nylons for wear reduction of the mating parts, and damage prevention to the manufacturing part is used. Some of the materials are discussed below:

  • Phosphor Bronze: phosphor bronze is used in the production of jigs and fixtures for processes that involve making of interchangeable nuts in clamping systems like vices, and also incorporated feedings that require screws. As the manufacturing of screws is costly and also wastes a lot of time, the reduction of their tear and wear is often achieved by using replaceable bronze mating nuts made with phosphor bronze.
  • Die Steels: the three variants of die steel - high chromium (12 %), high carbon (1.5 to 2.3%), and cold working steels are applied in the production of jigs and fixtures for the making of thread forming rolls, as well as cutting of press tools. When alloyed with vanadium and molybdenum for it to retain toughness at very high temperature, die steels are applied in the fabrication of jigs and fixtures that are used in high-temperature work processes which include extrusion, forging, and casting processes.
  • High-Speed Steels: High-speed steels which contain more quantity of tungsten and less quantity of chromium and vanadium have high toughness, hardness retention at high temperature, and excellent wear, tear and impact resistance. When tempered, they are applied in the production of jigs and fixtures for reaming, drilling, boring, and cutting operations.
  • Carbon Steels: when tempered with oil, carbon steels are applied in the making of some jig and fixture parts which are exposed to tear and wear like the locators and jig bushes.
  • Mild steels: Mild steel, which contains about 0.29% of Carbon, is very cheap and because of their easy availability is often the choicest material for the making of jigs of fixtures.

Other materials for the making of jigs and fixtures include Nylon and Fibre, steel castings, stainless steel, cast iron, high tensile steels, case hardening steels, and spring steels.

Reference

Charles ChikwenduOkpala, EzeanyimOkechukwu C “The Design and Need for Jigs and Fixtures in Manufacturing” Science Research.Vol. 3, No. 4, 2015, pp. 213-219. DOI: 10.11648/j.sr.20150304.19

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DFMA and DFMEA

During the last few decades, with the developments in technology, manufacturers have been enabled to source parts globally. More and more manufacturers have entered the competition as it grows fierce. Companies in developing nation market offer products at lower prices. To sustain business and achieve growth, many manufacturers are coming up with new products to cater to the consumers and widen it as well. They must be very marketable and of high quality. The Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) method enables firms to develop quality products in lesser time and at lower production costs.

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)

Design for Manufacturing and Assembly or DFMA is a design process that targets on ease of manufacturing and efficiency of assembly.

Simplifying the design of a product makes it possible to manufacture and assemble it in the minimum time and lower cost. DFMA approach has been used in the automotive and industrial sectors mostly. However, the process has been adopted in the construction domain as well.

DFMA is a combination of two methodologies which are:

  • Design for Manufacturing (DFM): DFM focuses on the design of constituent parts to ease up their manufacturing process. The primary goal is to select the most cost-efficient materials and procedures to be used in production and minimize the complexity of the manufacturing operations.
  • Design for Assembly (DFA): DFA focuses on design for the ease of assembly in the product. The aim is to reduce product assembly cost and minimize the number of assembly operations.

Both DFM and DFA seek to reduce material, labour costs associated with designing and manufacture of a product. For a successful application of DFMA, the two activities should operate in unison to earn the most significant benefit. Through the DFMA approach, a company can prevent, detect, quantify, and eliminate waste and manufacturing inefficiency within a product design.

Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (DFMEA)

Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (DFMEA) is a methodical string of activities to identify and analyze potential systems, products, or process failures.

Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis or DFMEA focuses on finding potential design flaws and failures of components before they can make a significant impact on the end users of a product and the business distributing the product.

DFMEA identifies –

The potential risks introduced in a  new or modified design,

 The effects and outcomes of failures,

The actions that could eliminate the failures, and

provides a historical written record of the work performed. 

DFMEA is an ideal process for any sector where risk reduction and failure prevention are crucial, which includes:

  • Manufacturing
  • Industrial
  • Aerospace
  • Software
  • Service industries

 

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Difference between New Product Development (NPD) & Industrial Design (ID)

Let us take a step back and walkthrough the definitions as presented earlier in this article.

New Product Development: The process which involves forming strategy, organizing requirements, generating concepts, creating product & marketing plan, evaluating and subsequent commercialization, thereby bringing a new product to the marketplace.

Product development is a complete cycle which starts from market analysis, product specifications to concept/industrial design, costing, scheduling, testing, manufacturing and ends at logistics, customer feedback, improvements and the final act of getting a product into the market.

Industrial Design:The practice of forming concepts and designing products, which are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production.

Product Design is complete process that includes product industrial design, user experience, 3D Cad modeling, design calculations, simulation. Responsibility of a good product design is to make product working as per design specifications. It is safe to say that product industrial design is one of the many stages of NPD. It is a crucial subset of NPD which is necessary for the successful completion of entire development cycle.

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Importance of Product Development(NPD) & Industrial Design(ID) for a business

Over the first fiscal quarter of 2018, Apple accelerated investments in research and development operations spending more than $3.4 billion on new hires and initiatives which will keep the company competitive in a fast-paced tech market.

Product development is like the gasoline that keeps the wheels rolling. But what drives companies to spend valuable resources such as time, money, human capital, etc. on new product development? And why is it so important?

 Here are five reasons:

  • Value for customers

The primary reason for any new product development is to provide value to its customers. The increasing demands of customers for innovation & new technology calls for the need to develop new or existing products. Otherwise, there is no reason to pour in huge amounts of money in the first place.

  • Keeping up with the competition

Staying ahead of the competition should always be the primary goal for any business. And increased competition is one of the major reasons leading to go for new products development. New products give us a competitive advantage over our rivals. Every firm struggles to fulfill and retain consumers by offering exceptional products. To offer more competitive advantage over the other and to satisfy consumer needs more effectively and efficiently, the product innovation seems to be needed.

  • Changing markets

Today’s market is more dynamic as compared to the past; it keeps on changing due to the wide variety of customer needs, all thanks to increased literacy rate, globalized market, heavy competition, and availability of a number of substitute. Consumers are constantly evolving which means their tastes and preferences change with them. It is the changing consumer behavior that drives the innovation and development of products. Plus, it also counters seasonal fluctuations.

  • Explore technology

Just as consumer trends drive new products, advances in technology drives companies to invest in new products. If your company has not upgraded its technology arsenal for ten years, count yourself to be at the last one in the queue within a few years.

  • Reputation and goodwill

Building image and reputation as a dynamic innovation and creative firm boosts a company’s legacy. The new product development is approached. Company desires to convince the market that it works hard to meet customer’s expectations. In fact, company developing new products frequently has more reputation and can easily attract customers.

Industrial design is a very crucial part of the entire new product development process. We are aware of the fact that industrial design develops aspects of a product that create emotional connections with the user. It integrates all aspects of form, fit, and function, hence optimizing them to create the best possible user experience. Industrial design’s role in product development process is to establish the design language of a product, as well as the corporate branding and identity.

How successfully a company is able to carry out development or modification, incorporating the ergonomics aspect, can often determine the success of a product in the market. Firms that leave industrial design to the end of the engineering lifecycle, or out completely will struggle to find success in consumer-driven markets.

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NPD/ID vocabulary

Bill of materials (BOM): A table containing a list of the components and the quantity of each required to produce an assembly.

BriefInstructions and requests provided to design team prior to the commencement of a project. 

Business analysis: The practice of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems.

Commercialization: The process of introducing a new product or production method into the market.

Concept design: An early phase of design process, where the broad outlines of function and form are articulated.

ErgonomicsApplication of principles that consider the effective, safe and comfortable use of design by humans.

Ideation: Idea generation or brainstorming.

Industrial design: The process of designing products used by millions of consumers around the world.

Market research: An organized effort to gather information about target markets or consumers.

New product development (NPD): The complete process which involves transformation of a market opportunity or product idea into a product available for sale.

New Product Introduction (NPI): New product introduction is the complete process of bringing a new product to market.

Patent: An exclusive right granted to an inventor by a sovereign authority, for a specified time period.

Pilot Run: An initial small production run produced as a check, prior to commencing full-scale production. 

Prototyping: An early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or built to act as a commodity to be replicated or learned from.

SketchAn image that is quick to generate and does not contain complete detail.

S.W.O.TAnalysis framework for a company relative to its competitors, market, and industry: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

Test marketing: An experiment conducted by companies to check the viability in the target market before full scale manufacture.

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The New Product Development Process

You might be a seasoned design professional thinking “What do my bosses sit around and do all day while I do the real design work".

This section outlines and explores the various early stages of the industrial design process that a product goes through. It does serve as a reasonable account of the overall and general product design process.

  • Ideating or initial ideas

Before any design work can begin on a product, there must first be a definition of what the product or product line might be. The idea’s genesis can be many factors such as:

Consumer demand – Reviews & feedbacks from the customers or even their ideas can help companies generate new product ideas.

Internal sources – Companies provide incentives and perks to employees who come up with new product ideas

Market research – Companies constantly review the changing needs, requirements and trends of the market by conducting plethora of market research analysis.

Competition – Competitors SWOT analysis helps companies to generate ideas.

  • Idea screening

An idea can be excellent, good, moderate or very bad. Once a suitable product opportunity has been identified, a specification document or design brief is created to define the product. It is usually created by the higher management of a company who’ll have access to information, such as budgeting and buyer/seller feedback. This step involves filtering out the good and feasible ideas which maintains the technical integrity while staying within realistic cost expectations.

Features such as a mechanical specification or a reference to an existing invention the product might be based upon, are outlined. Expectations, uses, and underlying intelligence associated to the product are included as well. Electronics, including sounds, lights, sensors, and any other specific inputs, such as colors and new materials may also be mentioned. Finally, a few reference sketches or photo images can be added to convey a possible direction.

  • Concept design & development

All ideas that pass through the screening stage are turned into concepts for testing purpose. A concept is a detailed strategy or blueprint version of the idea. In most companies, designers work up a design brief or product specification that guides their designs. It’s the designer’s role to make these ideas a reality. A professional designer has the ability to provide a large variety of designs in a quick and efficient manner. Many people can draw one or two ideas, but when asked to elaborate they often fall short. What separates the true design professional is depth and breadth of their presented ideas and vision in a clear and concise manner. Concept design generally means the use of hand-drawn or digital sketches to convey what’s in a designer’s mind onto paper or a screen.

  • Business analysis

A detailed business analysis is required to determine the feasibility of the product. This stage determines whether the product is commercially profitable or not, whether it will have a regular or seasonal demand and the possibilities of it being in the market for the long run.

  • Modeling

With the help of 3D modeling software (CAD – Computer Aided Design), the ideas/concept is rendered a shape, thereby creating a 3D model. The technical and engineering team has the biggest workload during this phase. These 3D models will often show up problematic areas where the theoretical stresses and strains on the product to be developed will be exposed. If any problem persists, it is a best phase of product development to handle the design errors and come up with modifications to address the same.

  • Prototyping & pilot runs (preliminary design stage)

In this stage, prototypes are built and tested after several iterations and pilot run of the manufacturing process is conducted. This stage involves creating rapid prototypes for a concept that has been deemed to have business relevance and value. Prototype means a ‘quick and dirty’ model rather than a refined one that will be tested and marketed later on. Adjustments are carried out as required before finalizing the design.

  • Test marketing

Apart from continuously testing the product for performance, market testing is also carried out to check the acceptability of the product in the defined market and customer group. It is usually performed by introducing the new product on a very small scale, to check if there are any shortcomings. This helps to know in advance, whether customer will accept and buy this product on launching in the market. Test marketing is a powerful tool indeed.

  • New product launch

This is the final stage in which the product is introduced to the target market. Production starts at a relatively low level of volume as the company develops confidence in its abilities to execute production consistently and marketing abilities to sell the product. Product manufacturing expenses depend on the density of the product, if there are numerous parts, material selection etc. The organization must equip its sales and customer service entities to address and handle queries. Product advertisements, website pages, press releases, and e-mail communications are kept on standby on the launching day.

Product development is an ever evolving fluid process and cannot be summed up in a few steps. The entire procedure sees insertion of additional stages or even eviction of a crucial part, depending on the nature of the project. Each group of professionals, whether designers, engineers or marketing, sales; has their role to play in this methodology. It is the company’s responsibility to continuously monitor the performance of the new product.

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What is a Patent?

Before you get an answer to that question, take a moment to ask yourself - what are the advantages of having a real estate property to your name?

  • You can rent it
  • You can use it for your own business venture
  • You can prevent others from using your property without your permission
  • If things are not working, you can simply sell it

 On similar terms, patent is an intellectual property that has all the advantages stated above and one needs to claim it on his/her name.

 A patent is the granting of property right to an inventor, by a sovereign authority.

 This grant provides the inventor exclusive rights to the design, or invention for a designated period (usually 20 years), in exchange for a comprehensive disclosure of the invention. Patent process is generally invoked when the product/process Iprovides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to an existing problem.

Filling for a patent comes with many advantages. Understanding the pros can enable an inventor to make an informed decision.

Advantages of Patents

  • When an inventor or startup is seeking capital for an idea, they may disclose their invention to potential investors and licensees. It is important to patent an idea to prevent someone else from stealing it, by filing a patent application first.
  • Invoking a patent gives the inventor a legal monopoly on selling, using, distributing, importing, or exporting their creation for a specified time period. This keeps others out of the market for the invention, which can be extremely profitable and beneficial.
  • An inventor may seek a patent to prevent another competitor from improving a product, if the inventor has an idea that infringes on the competitor’s patent.
  • A patent holder can typically charge a premium for an invention because of the restricted competition.
  • Patenting an idea can also help to restrict the competition. A properly filed patent can limit the competition's ability to produce the product and even allow the inventor to demand that they cease production if they are producing the item as well and have never patented it.
  • Patents are extremely valuable for small businesses as they may be able to find investors willing to invest merely for rights to a patent.
  • A patent can provide increased credibility to an inventor and their company.
  • A patent holder can exclude the competition from recreating their product or service.
  • An inventor can profit from selling licenses or selling the patent outright. Though royalties can be a better option for many inventors who may be unable to foot the expense of bringing the idea to market.

 

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What is Industrial Design (ID)?

Every product you have in your home and interact with is the outcome of a design procedure. All those products have come into being after long hours of planning, sketching, rendering, 3D modeling. Not to mention the numerous prototypes and testing it has gone through to finally hit the shelves. The ideation and the procedure to develop a certain product is collectively called Industrial Design process or simply ‘Industrial Design’ (ID).

Industrial Design is the professional practice of conceptualizing and designing products, which are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production, eventually to be used by millions of people around the world every day.

An industrial product design process incorporates inputs from diverse domains such as ergonomics, form studies, studio skills, advanced cad, research methods, design management, materials & manufacturing processes and social sciences.

An industrial designer’s purpose is to emphasize on — appearance of a product, the functioning, how the product is manufactured and the value & experience it provides for users. Their sole intent is aimed at improving your life through design.

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