Consultative Design Analysis Prepares Parts for Production

By Nicole Hopper

The key to getting a part made more quickly than anyone else at Protolabs is having a CAD model suitable for manufacturing.

And speed of manufacturing is the founding principle of our company.  Over two decades ago, our founder Larry Lukis wrote a complex software system to reduce the time it took to get injection-moulded parts by automating the traditional manufacturing process to communicate with a network of mills and presses using the CAD models that you produce.

This system has evolved over the years so that now, when you upload your CAD file for a moulded part into our quoting software, you will receive your quote within a few hours. You will also get useful information including prep for part orientation, gate and ejector system design, mould design, toolpath information, and part design analysis. This analysis features design for manufacturability feedback to ensure that we can manufacture your design.

But what happens when your CAD model isn’t quite right for injection moulding? Or, you need help getting it ready? That’s where our new consultative design service (CDS) for injection moulded parts comes in.

Consultative Design Service
Our free Consultative Design Service helps improve manufacturability of your plastic parts.

New Consultative Design Analysis for Injection Moulded Parts

Simply put, our new service helps you update your CAD model to address the manufacturability feedback you received with your quote. One of our experienced injection moulding applications engineers will work with you on your part design to improve manufacturability and ensure your part is mouldable.

The first step in this process is having your project vetted by our applications engineering team to make sure it meets certain criteria to be eligible for CDS; which includes it having gone through the iteration phases and being ready to place an order. The process will also depend on the manufacturability feedback received on your design, and your understanding of how to move forwards with that. Your account representative and one of our application engineers will talk to you to see if CDS is right for you.

"Sometimes it’s tricky to either translate our DFM, or it can be tricky to figure out a way to build your model," said Rob Musselle, Customer Engineer Manager, Protolabs.

Using this new service, the engineer you are working with will talk through the design feedback from your quote, offer suggestions, and make the actual updates to your CAD file for you so that your part can move back into the ordering system, and on to production.

“We are here to help customers achieve their manufactured parts quickly,” said Musselle “It’s about being faster and providing excellent customer service.”

A new enhanced service

Repeat customers will already be familiar with receiving their quote with design feedback on features that are not manufacturable and then our design team suggesting changes or updates to help move it onto production.

The new service is different in that it actively involves you in this process. Together we will talk through the issues that came up in the manufacturability analysis and suggest solutions. It means that we work with you to understand your needs rather than just sending changes or updates that you approved before moving onto production.

Typically, CDS involves our application engineer talking with you about the issues that came up in the manufacturability analysis, suggesting and agreeing solutions, and then updating the CAD model.

Sometimes this approach will even help improve the design and optimise your solution. 

Continues Musselle “We have, for example, reduced the cost price of a part for a customer while retaining its essential functionality to meet their budgetary needs.  We know our process better than most of our customers, so there are things that we can see on a part that might not be obvious to them.

“In another example we spent a spent a couple hours on the phone with a customer working on their first version of a new assembly, going over each and every one of their parts and what we could do to make it less expensive and faster for us to manufacture. We went through and updated all of their parts as an assembly and sent it off. So, even though the parts were technically manufacturable, we helped the customer achieve a better result." 

Watershed medical molding part
We carry a number of common plastics and resins used in medical moulding, and we work extensively in the medical industry, including producing components for this robotic exoskeleton made by Parker Hannifin.

The Face Behind Digital

As pioneers of automation to speed up injection moulding delivery times, our new CDS process means that we offer the combined advantages of speed using our quoting and DFM software platform plus the nuanced thinking of an engineer to help you optimise your design.

It also means that if you are stuck and need some extra assistance from an experienced engineer well versed in injection moulding, then we provide that essential link to help you move it to manufacturing.  And we do it quickly.

So, if you have already uploaded your CAD onto our online quoting and design analysis platform and have got some suggested or required changes then you have two options. You can keep on uploading alternative versions into our online system to try different iterations.  Or if you need some expert help from an experienced engineer who is involved in injection moulding on a daily basis, then pick up the phone and speak to us. 

We can help make sure that your part is not only manufacturable but by understanding your needs we can help you make sure that you achieve the best solution.

Need some help now on a part that you have already uploaded into our system?  Phone us on +44 (0) 1952 683047