Product Design

Product design plays an integral part of everything we interact with in our daily lives and is a key factor in commercial success. We work to develop innovative product designs for our customers whilst ensuring integrity for the whole system.

product design

Key Skills

  • Mechanical design: Geometric tolerancing, 2D, 3D, Creo, parametric
  • Process analysis: Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA), Process Flow Analysis (PFA)
  • Value engineering: Castings, progression tools, Injection moulding, assembly modelling, materials analysis
  • 3D modelling: Model Based Definition, Creo, Spaceclaim, Keyshot texture rendering
  • Additive manufacture: 3d Printing (SLS, FDM, SLA, MLS), Rapid Prototyping
  • Product design testing: Accelerated Life Testing,  Reliability Analysis MiL-217, Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)
  • Mechanical modelling: Importing ECAD files, Stress analysis, Thermal analysis, Kinetic moment analysis
  • Manufacturability: DFM, DFA, DFT, DFMA analysis
  • PCB design and circuit layout: Copper balance, Impedance control, RF, Metal backed, HDI, Flexible circuit, multilayer, Printed filters, exotic materials, Mentor Graphics

Polly Britton

Project Engineer, Product Design

“Working in product design, I spend a lot of time in my imagination. I have to imagine the product being manufactured, assembled, installed, used, and eventually disposed of. There are so many factors that have to be considered and they all affect each other so it can be tricky to get everything just right. It’s a rewarding process, and I relish the challenge.”

Polly Britton, Plextek

Adaptive Electrophoretic Displays

Adaptive Electrophoretic Display

Our innovative concept was to combine multiple flexible electrophoretic panels into a billboard-sized display capable of presenting very large images. The client commissioned us to develop this idea into a fully working prototype.

The work involved laminating a number of displays together into sub-assembly modules that could be configured to cover areas of many different shapes and sizes. For the project to be successful, we had to solve a range of new and diverse challenges, such as:

  • Defining the optimum size and shape of the modules
  • Selecting suitable lamination films and adhesives
  • Establishing an appropriate method of attaching circuit boards to the flexible modules
  • Developing the lamination and assembly processes
  • Ruggedizing and protecting the electronics from the environment

The development team brought with it a crucial blend of youthful creativity, knowledge of current technology and a broad range of experience. These elements, allied with input from our comprehensive supplier base, enabled us to generate creative solutions to the problems we faced.

Everyone on the team used their technical and industrial knowledge to anticipate which design features or processes could have been problematic. Clever design and well-defined process control prevented these having any detrimental effect on product specification, cost or timescale. The result is a practical prototype design that meets all of the client’s requirements.

Initial in-house functional and robustness testing has had good results and client trials have been very successful. There is significant potential for further development for this innovative idea.

Environmentally Diverse IoT Enclosures

IoT Enclosure

Our client, a world-leading provider of wireless connectivity in the IoT sector, approached us with a brief to design and make an outdoor enclosure to support a suite of smart sensor devices. This would seem at first like a straightforward enough proposition; it’s a box. However, when the real requirements start to emerge, it needs skill and experience to create this within a short timescale and constrained budget.

Firstly, the overall size and appearance is important; it must be installed in public places and be unobtrusive (i.e. not attract complaints). It must be able to be mounted in many different locations in different ways – capable of accommodating different brackets – and there are likely to be situations that require specific mounts; the enclosure must be readily customisable.

Environmental sealing is critical; water must not get in but condensate must get out, a complex and involved problem with many potential solutions. The inside of the box must carry fixtures and supports for the electronics modules, power supplied, connectors etc. Then there are a whole host additional requirements; EMC shielding, solar loading, thermal performance, and etc. Finally, we must produce a design that can be manufactured efficiently at the right cost and volume from initial prototypes through to production runs.

Our approach was to create detailed 3D models of the PCB from which models of the enclosure could be created. This allowed realistic 3D renders of the enclosure to be prepared and agreed with the client so that there were no surprises when the initial units were made.

We followed this up with a complete manufacturing data pack (manufacturing drawings, BoM and assembly drawing) such that our client can make product on a build-to-print basis in the future.

This project delivered a flexible multi-use solution, without the tooling costs and timescales traditionally associated with custom mechanical enclosures. This, combined with our ability to move seamlessly from a circuit design, through layout and mechanical design to produce a full CAD model of the equipment, meant we were sufficiently confident in the whole design to immediately transfer into production, thus saving time and minimising risks.

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