Well-designed components are essential to every product’s success. Whether a component meets its performance and reliability requirements and is low-cost to manufacture depends on two things of equal importance:
Both mechanical form and metals can be engineered. Unfortunately, engineering a component’s metals is overlooked at many companies, leading to problems such as component costs over-budget, product launch delays, and supplier quality problems. Additionally, opportunities for innovation are missed.
Engineering component form and metal enables trade-offs for design optimization – meeting component performance and reliability at low total cost. Sometimes, selecting a more expensive alloy enables using less expensive fabrication processes, resulting in lower total cost.
Optimizing designs also includes thinking about ease of component fabrication. For any fabrication process, some alloys are easier to fabricate into components than others. Designing for ease of fabrication reduces costs and improves the supply base. Components that are difficult to fabricate result in high quotes from suppliers who want to be compensated for expected problems and the extra care required.
Focusing on engineering a component’s form and overlooking metals engineering leads to decision making without all the pertinent information and missing opportunities to improve designs. The result is sub-optimum results - components that fail to meet performance and reliability requirements, are more expensive than necessary, and are difficult to fabricate.
Also, overlooking metals engineering leads to inefficient problem solving for product failures and quality problems. The result is delayed and panicked product launches and lingering quality problems.
Incorporating metals engineering is a transformative opportunity to make better, lower-cost products and increase innovation. It adds an important perspective to enable better-informed, faster decisions for product design, supplier evaluation, and solving quality problems. Also, it opens up new avenues of product design for better functionality or capability.
This may sound too good to be true, but it‘s not, and it isn’t novel. Some companies have been actively applying metals engineering for years. The only mystery is why so many manufacturers overlook the benefits it can provide, something I will discuss next month.
We help companies with metals engineering to design components and perform failure analysis for quality problems and component failures. Contact us if you want to discuss a project.