Hi Folks! Just a quick update here and a bit of behind the scenes sharing about the manufacturing process...
My main focus (excuse the pun!) right now is to make sure the plastic part designs are dialed in before the steel molds are cut.
The fact that we're going to make quite a few of these means that it's all that much more important to double check things as much as possible. This is a collaboration between the initial engineer who developed the manufacturing CAD, the factory, as well as an additional specialist structural engineer for additional advising.
Just to back up a step, once the interior electronics are assembled, the two end caps are secured into place with a snap fit. These require some kind of clip to protrude out of the body, which will then fit into the caps.
Initially we had three horseshoe style clips, allowing them to flex at single points where they attach to the body, then maintain an arc for the section that clips. However, that presented some difficulty molding and I wasn't sure how durable they would be during assembly. So the factory suggested an alternative clip design.
The cool thing is that I can actually use my 3D printer to get a general idea of how these different solutions will work and compare them. While the final material will be stronger than what's used in my prints, it can give me a general sense.
While these did attach very nicely, I had to be careful while I connected them to prevent breakage. So the factory beefed them up just a bit.
While I could tell they were better, I went ahead and had a mechanical specialist engineer analyze the strength and revise the design one more time. Once I printed out these parts I could immediately tell the strength improvement.
Connecting them yields a nice positive snap and the parts fit together perfectly. So it feels very solid!
Next, I'm having additional parts printed by a process called Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) which is even more accurate than my printer... and those will be a really good representation of the final parts.
It's awesome that I can test out some of these design iterations ahead of time because that jumps us up a few steps in the testing process. Now I have higher confidence that I'll be satisfied with the first ones that come back from the injection molding process.
There are several steps in the sampling process of the parts coming off the molds themselves which I'll be going in to in greater detail in the future.
Until then, the approach is to measure twice and cut once as we make progress towards producing the product!
Have a question about the manufacturing process or suggestion of any other topic you'd like me to write about? Let me know in the comments below.