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Hartford Technologies Blog

Rapid Prototyping Utilizing Custom Bearing Designs

Posted: Aug 5, 2019 4:19:04 PM

It’s hardly news that product launch cadence has increased dramatically in recent years. What’s less well known is how suppliers can help reduce time-to-market for manufacturers. Here’s a look at how rapid prototyping with the design and testing of custom bearings can help you improve your time to market while ensuring quality.

More than Additive Manufacturing Processes

Rapid prototyping for manufacturers is about compressing the time needed to prove out and refine a design. This can be considered in two parts. First, time is saved by reducing the number of prototypes needed and the number of iterations the design goes through. That's done with modern engineering software tools that can model a design better and anticipate issues before they are built into the prototype.

Second, additive manufacturing processes can accelerate the creation of physical prototypes. Today additive manufacturing gets most of the attention, so let's start by looking at software.

Faster Development through Advanced Engineering Technology

Product development entails a series of design-make-test cycles. Each round yields data that lets engineers refine the design until a version emerges that satisfies all the design criteria.

The problem is, this takes time, and that’s something in short supply. The alternative is to employ Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and 3-D modeling tools.

CAE tools let engineers simulate how a product will perform in service. Skilled engineers can subject a computer model of the part or assembly to extreme loads and conditions and verify that it will still perform. If it doesn’t, the knowledge gleaned enables further design optimization without making physical prototypes.

It can be pushed a stage further by using 3-D modeling to incorporate components into customer designs. This way the engineers can see how the custom bearings will both fit and perform in the intended application.

Additive Manufacturing

CAE and 3-D modeling get a design closer to the final version and in less time than could be achieved previously. However, it’s still necessary to make and test at least one physical prototype, if only to reduce risk.

Producing production-intent products or assemblies often means making prototype components the same way the production parts will be made. This is where another source of delays emerges.

A conventional manufacturing process like casting or injection molding requires tooling. Mold tools are expensive and time-consuming to produce, making this aspect of product development time-consuming and costly.

Additive manufacturing provides ways of saving time on this step. Early additive techniques just created parts with the shape of the production parts. However, since the prototypes were produced from polymer, they were unsuitable for physical testing. That’s changed in recent years with the arrival of a wider range of printable materials.

Metal printing is typically done in a powder manufacturing process where a laser selectively sinters successive layers of powder. The result is a part very close to that obtainable from casting or forging.

Today it’s possible to produce both tooling and testable parts using additive processes. Tooling is generally for low volume or one-off use but it avoids weeks spent machining molds and dies. In addition, should additional parts be needed for testing a new set of tools is quickly produced.

About Hartford Technologies

Hartford Technologies understands the importance of minimizing time-to-market for new and improved products. CAE and 3-D modeling yield better designs in less time, and additive manufacturing helps cut prototype lead time. If you are looking for a custom prototype, let our team of skilled engineers help you. For more information, contact us today.