Briefly explain how the CAD process works.
The customer will send in a design with specifications or a general design idea. Davies will then review all information and decide on the most economical way to meet the design requirements. I will then generate a 3-D model and subsequently a 2-D drawing that will meet the design requirements and also adhere to molding practices and standards. This design is reviewed with the customer for approval.
What type of programs do you use?
We use SolidWorks, which is a feature-based solid modeling program. We can generate 3-D models and 2-D drawings of part designs and tooling. We also are able to generate 3-D models for direct input into CNC machinery for tool design and models for SLA/stereo lithography proto types.
We also use AutoCAD for generating 2-D drawings.
What is the biggest challenge of creating CADs of plastic knobs and handles?
When reverse engineering a part, getting the design/finished model to look exactly like the original part. Some of the older parts that customers supply to Davies Molding to design for them are from old hand-built molds, before they even had CAD. The part & mold designs were created with hand drawings, therefore, it is sometimes challenging to match some of the curvature of the design. The end result though is always a functional, ergonomically sound, and seamless design.
What was your favorite CAD project?
In general, my favorite projects would have to be when customers send in old compression molded parts and want Davies to redesign & manufacture them. Also any design project that progresses beyond the design, where a mold is built, and parts are manufactured. I also thoroughly enjoy designing Davies proprietary 2-shot design products. The reward for the designer is actually seeing the molded product and knowing the customer loves what we’ve done for them.
To list a few:
Luger magazine end cap - This was a redesign of an old compression molded end cap that fit into the end of a magazine for a German Luger pistol. There were many tweaks along the way to get the part to look exactly like the original, but when the project was finally complete, you could not tell the difference between the Davies redesign and the original.
Fan knob – Another old compression part redesign for Vintage Fans. It was a switch control knob for a ceiling fan. The redesign was very challenging, but very rewarding. The end product looked great and the customer loved it.
Water tank – A food equipment manufacturer wanted us to redesign a water tank that was made from sheet metal into a plastic one. This was an extensive design process but resulted in a great functional product that the customer loved. The best part was the money we saved the customer in converting a sheet metal part to plastics.
How is CAD used effectively in Davies’ manufacturing process?
CAD is most effective in manufacturing because of its ability to make quick changes to models/drawings. Models and drawings are associative, so changes to designs are quick and easy. Most importantly, this allows the manufacturing process to flow smoothly without potentially costly interruptions.