Component design and metals engineering


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:

  • component mechanical form
  • component metals

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.

Problems with the current approach

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.

Metals engineering presents a transformative opportunity

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. Call or email if you would like to discuss a project. 847.528.3467

  • "A group of us took several courses (Principles of Metallurgy, Metallurgy of Steel, Corrosion of Metals) to become more knowledgeable about the science of metals to avoid problems. For me, the biggest impact of the training was on working with suppliers. I feel more confident asking questions and I now know the suppliers which know their stuff and which ones don’t. And it was great being able to get the training when it was convenient for me."

    Sam Bloodgood, VP Process Improvement, Hydraforce, Inc.
  • "I oversee several operations, including steel heat treating and laser welding. However, my background was in the construction materials industry. Principles of Metallurgy gave me the knowledge to have meaningful discussions with my engineers and be able to ask them better questions."

    Tom Parkman, Plant Manager, Simonds International.
  • “Principles of Metallurgy exceeded my expectations. The content was straightforward enough not to be burdensome, yet deep enough to provide a practical review of fundamental principles. I recommend this course to any engineer or technical person who has been out of school and working in industry for several years, but not necessarily having been focused on metallurgy.”

    Andy Jacobs, Staff Engineer, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.
  • “The Principles of Metallurgy course is broke up into convenient length modules that can be fit into the busiest schedule. The course is a good review for engineers who had a materials class ten or more years ago.”

    Paul Flury B/E Aerospace
  • “This is an excellent course (Metallurgy of Steel Heat Treating) for learning basic heat treating practices. The course introduces and covers a broad range of processes. I would recommend it for anyone in the steel business.”

    Jim Marks, Magellan Corporation
  • “This course has given me more confidence in my job and given me a better understanding of some of the heat treatments used in the business.”

    Mark Winter, Abbey Forged Products

Have more questions? Email or call 847.528.3467

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