• Sara Hagmann

Engage New Manufacturing Processes Early in the Product Life Cycle

Picture this: an engineer designs a product around a familiar manufacturing process. Later, the team discovers that the design is actually very difficult to manufacture using that method. Or, the design intent and overall product performance is compromised by designing around a limited manufacturing process. Unfortunately, it’s a common issue.


Common university-level design-for-manufacturing practices that designers should “select the optimum combination between the material and fabrication process to minimize the overall manufacturing cost.” 1 Other studies found that designs at General Motors determine 70% of manufacturing costs for truck transmissions while at Rolls-Royce, 80% of the manufacturing costs for 2000 components are determined during the design stage. 2 Clearly, designs directly shape the eventual cost of the product, thereby even impacting the profit margin of the entire business. 3 However, these decisions are often made without robust knowledge of the numerous manufacturing options. Therefore, design engineers may overlook a process that would create a much higher-quality product, cost less, or speed up manufacturing times. One such overlooked process is pulsed electrochemical machining, or PECM.

Fig. 1: PECM examples of thin walled features

Ordinarily, complicated features and tight tolerances could make for a very expensive part, or one that doesn’t quite do what you want it to do. But PECM can accommodate designs that may be too costly or slow with other methods – or that may not be even possible with another machining process. Using PECM, Voxel can easily create delicate geometries, thin walls, and compound curvature. PECM also machines and finishes in the same step, which takes less time, less money, and introduces less opportunity for error. Another specialty of PECM is tough-to-machine alloys. The hardness of the materials has no impact on how quickly or easily the part can be shaped using PECM.


What efficient, innovative designs are not even crossing an engineer’s mind, because he or she doesn’t know that tiny details are possible and repeatable and within budget? Voxel Innovations is working to make sure that design and manufacturing professionals can create their ideal part with fewer compromises. We’re educating engineering teams on the possibilities enabled by PECM to spark creativity and streamline the design-for-manufacturing process. Not only does Voxel have design-for-manufacturing experience related to PECM, but we’re also familiar with competing processes and understand which designs are well-suited to our process, and which aren’t.


Ultimately, PECM is one of many manufacturing tools but one that is unknown to most design or manufacturing engineers. So call us and use Voxel as part of your design-for-manufacturing team to help you figure out how to make new, innovative designs happen – or how to decrease costs for an existing component. We’re happy to discuss your designs, assess manufacturing feasibility with PECM, answer questions, and familiarize you with PECM. We look forward to hearing from you.

  1. Robert Greenlee. (n.d.). Guidelines: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://www.unm.edu/~bgreen/ME101/dfm.pdf

  2. Daniel Whitney. (1988). Manufacturing by Design. Retrieved June 5, 2020, from https://hbr.org/1988/07/manufacturing-by-design

  3. ITB Team. (2017, February 27). 3 Important Cost Factors for Product Design. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://www.itbexperts.com/blog/2017/2/27/important-cost-factors-for-product-design

© 2019 by Voxel Innovations Inc.

Raleigh, NC

info@voxelinnovations.com

984-464-0701

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