Optimising the future design process

Having a more optimised and efficient design process is essential for manufacturing as it will ultimately assist the successful completion of engineering projects, says Tim Parkinson.

In manufacturing, having an optimised and efficient design process is essential for a well-functioning company. This optimisation relates to the process of ensuring that any design is the best possible one, instead of having nominal level work.

While optimisation is often done implicitly through a combination of different expert opinions, expertise, and judgement, there are also other variables capable of being adjusted to provide an optimised design.

The process of optimising design is composed of elements directly linked to precision in manufacturing, which allows for varied industries to provide designs that allow for minimal errors and accidents. 

Simulation software

Both simulation and optimisation need to go hand-in-hand from the beginning of the design process to ensure that optimisation isn’t done too late. Taking advantage of streamlined workflows and simulation software permits the design of digital models, with controlled and precise views of objects, before the manufacturing process even begins.

Through the use of software, such as Computer Aided Design (CAD), for image construction and manipulation, both the design and production steps of manufacturing benefit immensely. Other benefits, such as the increased quality of the final product, heightened client satisfaction, and better design control, are also seen throughout the use of this software.

CAD has increasingly been utilised to replace traditional tools, such as parallel rules, compasses, pencils, and other items. Previously, design blueprints needed to be drawn by hand in repetitive motions that can incur human error. But the preciseness and accuracy derived from simulation software allows for a wider variety of drawing tools to create even more varied shapes. Through this software, engineers can copy, rotate, and move objects without the possibility of decreasing drawing precision.

In addition, the chance for errors and the time-consuming element of manual drawing doesn’t permit the ease of sizing and aligning objects allowed by simulation software. Through the indication of points along both an X and Y axis, objects are snapped into place in their exact coordinates, reducing errors and ensuring precision. Precision and accuracy are vital in many industries to guarantee the long-term life of objects and their safe use.

Optimisation leads to efficiency

By ensuring that all design and manufacturing processes are optimised, it becomes easy to ensure that projects rely on the best possible design before objects are constructed. Engineers in all industries are able to save on costs and time; potentially preventing greater issues from arising before they can become a problem.

With the chance of visualising design models before they are manufactured, engineers can run simulations to measure and test the integrity of the components’ structure. They can also test several materials and how they would react depending on the situation, ensuring that all components are high-quality and of the right material for the right project.

Weak points are easily and quickly addressed, as prototypes are printed quickly and efficiently to allow for the decrease in material costs. Modifications are also simplified, with objects being redrawn and erased easily. 

Regardless of project complexity, 3D printing and simulation software provides engineers with the tools needed to ensure that every detail, big or small, is addressed before reaching the final manufacturing process. Addressing any issues quickly also guarantees the best possible design, while remaining cost and time effective.

The future of manufacturing and design will continuously rely on such measures, increasingly providing societies across the world with optimised objects before the final product. Projects are designed and built digitally, with input from around the globe due to the rise in interconnectivity seen in present times. With devices increasingly more connected, this optimisation process will become easier and quicker, as all engineers will need is an internet connection and a device to access the software.

Tim Parkinson is the chairman of Airedale Springs, a UK leader in spring manufacturing for various sectors including engineering.