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Avoid These 6 Common Product Design Mistakes

If you’ve ever seen the show “Shark Tank,” you may be inclined to think that developing a new product is as easy as formulating a great idea. All you really need is one great PowerPoint presentation, a killer elevator pitch, some investors and—Boom!—your product will be flying off the shelves, right?

We hate to crush your primetime TV dreams, but there’s a lot more that goes into product development than that. After the initial napkin sketch phase, your next great idea will need to go through conceptual sketching, product design, prototyping, low rate initial production, and final production—not to mention market validation!

But here’s some good news: with proper planning and foresight in the product design phase, you can mitigate risks to accelerate your production timeline and decrease your costs.

Because hindsight is 20/20, we’ve compiled a list of common mistakes often made during product design–so you can avoid them.

Avoid These 6 Mistakes During Product Development

Mistake #1: Designing without having the end manufacturing method in mind.

Design approaches vary depending on the manufacturing method, so it’s important to consider how your product is going to be made at the start of the process. In other words, begin with the end in mind.

A traditional manufacturing method like CNC machining is great when you want to remove as little material as possible. But if your part has intricate geometries, 3D printing or molding is often a better solution, depending on your production quantity.

It’s entirely possible to combine additive and subtractive manufacturing in an approach we call hybrid manufacturing, but again, it’s something you’ll want to decide on up front.

Mistake #2: Choosing cost over value. 

When you sacrifice value for initial cost, you often end up paying more in the long run, both in terms of time and money:

A customer of ours had a strong idea but needed help with conceptual development. Our initial quote included product development services to ensure that we got their product functioning optimally before it went into production. They ended up choosing another shop to work with for their prototyping based on cost.

Unfortunately, the other shop made the customer’s product to spec instead of taking the time to evaluate its functionality. The customer received a product that didn’t work. Luckily, they came back to our Jacksonville machine shop and we were able to help them!

Mistake #3: Overinvesting in early prototypes.

The true success of your product can’t be measured until it’s in the hands of your customers. Overinvesting in early prototypes when it isn’t necessary can be a huge drain on your budget.

If the product you’re making has several complex features that need to be tested, it may make sense to create a quick partial 3D print for design verification of that particular feature. But for a more straightforward product, limit the number of early prototypes you create. Instead, put those extra dollars toward market testing and other initiatives that will help accelerate market introduction.

Mistake #4: Overengineering your product. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overengineering your product. Just keep in mind that complex engineering usually increases cost and lead time and may not be necessary to deliver a great product. That’s especially true for internal components: keep them simple and focused on functionality. 

We understand the pressure engineers feel when they’re responsible for the functionality of a part or product—and we know that pressure can lead to overengineering. That’s why we’re committed to being a manufacturing partner you can trust in, to guide you in the right direction. We have the expertise to advise on everything from part features to specific tolerances.

Mistake #5: Unspecified regulatory and intellectual property requirements.

Does your product need to meet any regulatory requirements? It’s important to notify your manufacturer ahead of time if you need certified components, testing, or laboratory verification. The consequences of withholding this information can be costly and time-consuming. 

Also, be sure to check for existing patents that might impact your design. You don’t want to reach the end of the product development process only to find that your product has infringed on someone else’s intellectual property.

Mistake #6: Trying to do too much on your own. 

The DIY approach to product development can seem tempting, but there are costly risks every step of the way. At Polyhistor, our team of experts can guide you through the entire process. Whether you’re in the napkin sketch stage, designing for manufacturing, or are ready to hit go on production, we’ll provide you with the engineering and manufacturing services you need to be successful.

  
Request a quote today and let’s get started!

Solving Machining Challenges Through Creative and Innovative Thinking

Manufacturing is almost never a straight and easy path—and that’s one of the reasons it’s so exciting! 

Each part brings with it a unique set of complexities and requirements that, more often than not, require creative thinking to solve, resolve or address.

At Polyhistor, we love a good challenge. As a team of curious engineers, we’re always thinking outside the box to improve our capabilities and service offerings, not only on the engineering side of our business but in our manufacturing, machining and assembly processes as well.

Here’s a look at some of our creative machining techniques that enable us to deliver better products to our customers while improving cost and lead time.

Polyhistor’s Creative and Innovative Machining Techniques

Turning various geometries with minimal setup. When producing a high volume of parts, a lathe can in some cases offer better performance and efficiency than milling. However, the limitation of typical lathes is that they can only produce circular geometries…or do they? 

With our multi-function CNC machines with live tooling, we have the flexibility to turn square parts and other geometries as well. This equipment also enables hands-off machining, eliminating the need for costly setup. Our customers save time and money on the shop floor without sacrificing design integrity or precision.

Vacuum workholding. When using traditional clamping techniques to hold a workpiece in place, it’s hard to work around some of the part edges as you get closer to the numerous clamps required to hold the part securely.

To minimize this issue, we installed a vacuum table system to our milling machine so we don’t have to use clamps at all. 

Vacuum table workholding significantly reduces set-up time, run time, and part distortion when we’re removing material. 

And it allows for quick part changes, thus maximizing machine up time during large production runs.

Leveraging hybrid manufacturing. We view additive and subtractive manufacturing as having both traditional standalone capabilities as well as seldom considered complementary capabilities.

By leveraging hybrid manufacturing, it’s possible to bring the best of both worlds together. Our team can 3D print a part and machine it afterward as a secondary finishing operation. Alternatively, we can stop a 3D printing process midstream, insert metal parts, then resume printing. If you’re unsure which manufacturing method to use in your particular stage of product development, we’ll be glad to offer expert advice.

Let Polyhistor Solve Your Machining Challenges 

The team at Polyhistor is dedicated to solving inefficiencies through creative and innovative thinking. By streamlining our machining processes and coming up with new techniques, we pass the benefits right along to our customers, always striving for better products, lower costs, and shorter lead times. 
If you’re looking for a shop that will consciously find ways to improve your part, end your search with us. Polyhistor has an awesome team of engineers and machinists ready to put on their thinking caps and brainstorm an innovative manufacturing strategy for you. Request a quote and let’s get started!

What to Do When You’re Stuck in the Engineering Phase of Product Development

Engineers are known for being meticulous—and it’s easy to understand why: they’re responsible for ensuring that critical parts function properly, so they spend a lot of time perfecting every detail of the product development process

But as the saying goes, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Getting stuck in the engineering phase can be a serious drain on time and money. 

At a certain point, the resources spent on iteration could be better allocated to sales and marketing efforts for your product. Because design, prototyping, and even initial production are all up front investments. You won’t make a dollar back until your first product is actually sold.

Are you caught in the trap of continuous iteration? Are those new and improved features you keep adding creating a bottleneck in your manufacturing timeline? 

It may be time to stop iterating and move forward to production.

How Polyhistor Can Help You Move into Production 

Polyhistor specializes in making your product succeed. Here’s how we help you accelerate market introduction and reduce your costs: 

1. Create a functioning prototype. You should have a physical representation of your part that actually works. Going into full-scale production with only a napkin sketch simply isn’t an option. The first step is to evaluate whether or not you’re prepared to move forward into production. There’s no need to rush this part of the process. We want to make sure that there are no loose ends when it comes to your product’s success. So we’ll check and double check all the boxes of our proven product development process to make sure your prototype works exactly as intended.

2. Distinguish the “need to have” from the “nice to have.” If you keep adding desired features to your part, you’ll never be able to start producing it! A good rule of thumb is to differentiate between functional issues and cosmetic issues. We’ll help you prioritize design changes that are critical to the function of the part while negotiating whether certain cosmetic upgrades are really necessary. If it’s an internal part, for example, you may be able to forgo cosmetic changes in version one—and potentially incorporate them in a future release.

3. Perform testing. It’s important to perform both functional testing and market testing before moving a product to mass production. Functional testing will help you determine whether your prototype works as intended. Does it hold up at the required temperatures and environments? Will it last for the desired lifespan? 

In turn, market testing gives you the opportunity to receive valuable customer feedback and determine if your product is sellable. It also affords you a glimpse into what your target customer is really looking for. Not sure if a product feature is a “nice to have” or a must have”? Use market testing to discover how much that particular feature matters to your customers. 

If you’re still feeling stuck, remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing an initial release of your product and improving it over time. As brands like Apple have shown us, releasing updated versions of your product can actually be a future sales generator.

If you have a part that you think is ready for production, send it over to Polyhistor and have us assess it for you. Our team of engineers will help you evaluate if you need more time on the drawing board or if it’s time to stop iterating and get to market.

 
Don’t get stuck in the engineering phase! Let Polyhistor help move your part into production. Get a quote from us today.

Ready to develop your next product?

Polyhistor is your one-stop-shop solution

Got a big idea for a product? Are you looking for guidance on how to turn your napkin sketch into a functioning prototype? If you’re great at coming up with exciting concepts but need help connecting your ideas to design and manufacturing, the team at Polyhistor International can help.

Why Polyhistor Should Get Involved in Your Product Development Process

Here’s an unfortunate truth: too many product developers spend a ton of money getting their parts design-engineered, only to find out that their drawings are impossible to fabricate on the shop floor. 2D drawings and 3D CAD models are important to the manufacturing process, but other important factors that affect manufacturing get overlooked when there’s no communication between the machine shop and design engineer. Material thickness, machining capabilities, and tolerances, for example, can all affect Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and the cost of your part.

The easy solution? Get an experienced product design company involved from the beginning. At Polyhistor, our product design services may include the following:

  • Documentation of basic specifications. It always helps to have something written down—for the sanity of both customer and manufacturer. We capture your part’s basic specifications, like weight, dimensions, etc. 
  • Feasibility study. What do you want your product to do? Are you planning for any unique or nonstandard features? When we know your expectations in terms of functionality, we can determine feasibility and quote more accurately, so you can have a better estimate of your costs. 
  • Planning on a patent? Let an experienced company work with you before the patent is applied for. We may come up with different solutions that are patentable that should be included in your patent to make it stronger. Your idea may need some tweaks to be effective for manufacturing, and if the design process is concurrent with the patenting, it will give us design freedom for an overall better product. 
  • Cost-effectiveness. Specifications, function, marketability—all these details impact your bottom line. Our focus on ironing out the details can prevent costly rework or design changes down the road. 
  • Design for Manufacturing (DFM). We’re a manufacturing company backed by a team of engineers, so we know the ins and outs of both sides of production. By optimizing your product’s design for manufacturability, we can help reduce lead time, revisions, costs, and headaches!

Before you start, think about your ability to sell and market the end product. Does your product have an audience? Have you worked out your sales and distribution channels? Those are important questions to ask yourself before you spend the design dollars.

We want the development of your product to be a sound investment and the start of a successful, long-term relationship, so it’s important to determine your product’s marketability!

Polyhistor’s Product Development Services

If you decide that “yes, you could” sell the product—if only you had one!—here’s what you can expect from Polyhistor’s product development engagement:

 1. Receiving an NDA. Your intellectual property is yours. We want to give you the security that all information will be held private and confidential.

 2. Starting an assessment conversation. Based on your sketches and/or photos of the product, we will determine how we can help.

 3. Defined project deliverables & ballpark cost estimates. Depending on project scope and complexity, we may need to do preliminary engineering to determine more accurate project deliverables and costing.

 4. Providing a design estimate. Once we’re done with the project assessment, we develop an estimate for the entirety of the engineering project. 

 5. Scheduling a kickoff meeting. We thoroughly explore your product idea during the kickoff meeting to further develop the specification sheet, identify functionality, and assess resources needed.

 6. A deeper dive into product design. Concept generation is done via hand sketches and simple CAD models, then matured into a more detailed 3D CAD design using mechanical engineering and electronics, if applicable. 

 7. Prototyping estimate. Once the design database is completed, we can estimate prototyping costs. The prototype can be 3D printed, CNC machined, or fabricated in a multitude of other ways.

 8. Prototyping. Once costs are agreed upon, prototypes (functional, non-functional, or show quality) are created to validate the best ideas selected during the engineering/design processes. 

Ready to work with us? Give us a call today, and let’s get started!

Prototyping in Show Quality vs. Standard 3D Printing

Get Your Prototype Ready for Market Testing—Without Tooling!

When you’re launching a new product, it’s not always advisable to immediately spend big bucks on mass production. In fact, for the market testing stage, you often only need a couple of prototypes to showcase at a trade show or exhibit. Displaying show quality prototypes allows you to present your product to prospective clients and fill your sales funnel in advance without paying for the cost of actual tooling upfront (Injection molds can cost upwards of $75,000 or more!). You not only reduce  your costs, but you also avoid the hassle of storing a garage full of products!

What makes show quality prototyping different from standard 3D printing?   

Show Quality Prototyping vs. Standard 3D Printing

The main difference between show quality prototyping and standard 3D printing is the finishing work applied to the part. With standard 3D printing, a part can look and feel unpolished. With show quality prototyping, however, your product gets Class A treatment to achieve a realistic look before tooling up!

Techniques Used for Show Quality Prototyping

At Polyhistor International, we make show quality prototypes specifically for pitching to customers or showcasing at exhibitions.

To make your product look fantastic, we use:

  • 3D Printing
  • Sanding, blasting, and vapor finishing to remove print layers
  • Handcrafting for the most minute details
  • Priming
  • Painting (we offer automotive grade matte, gloss, metallic, and textured finishes in any color)
  • Graphics (we use vinyl, print, or airbrushing for final details)
  • Soft-touch clear coating for a soft feel finish

Not every 3D printing service bureau offers show quality finishing, but Polyhistor International certainly does! We have over 25 years of experience and a strong commitment to quality. Your success is our success. So give us a call today!

Additive or subtractive manufacturing: what if you didn’t have to choose?

Here’s a manufacturing conundrum:

What if you need to produce a part with tight geometric tolerances but have little lead time to spare? How do you build a 3D printed part and achieve tight tolerances at the same time? 

Some would say you need to machine the part, potentially sacrificing some material or geometric properties to save on processing time. Others would say to go with 3D printing and try to adjust the design, so the tolerances aren’t an issue.

But at Polyhistor International, we see a third option: bring the best of both worlds together by leveraging hybrid manufacturing. 

Can Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing Really Work Together?

In certain situations, additive and subtractive manufacturing are complementary capabilities. In some additive manufacturing processes, post-machining is needed to perfect the part. 3D printing has some limitations (like achieving tight tolerances) that CNC machining can help resolve. 

On the other hand, design for CNC machining is governed by certain limitations of the machining process itself. 3D printing allows for greater flexibility and freedom of design.

When Should You Use Hybrid Manufacturing?

There are two ways to approach hybrid manufacturing: 

  • 3D print the part and machine it afterward as a secondary operation
  • Stop a 3D printing process midstream, insert metal parts, then resume printing

Here are some common applications for hybrid manufacturing:

  •  3D print with tight tolerance needs. 3D printing doesn’t generally have tight tolerance capabilities, but post-machining can offer the precision needed to achieve the appropriate tolerances.
  • Printing with a standard hex nut. If you need more pullout strange and torque resistance than a regular heat set insert can provide, we are able to stop the 3D printing process and insert regular off the shelf hex nuts and then resume printing. 
  • Added features for a 3D printed part. We recently had a client who needed a magnet inserted right below the surface of their 3D printed part. Thanks to our ability to stop the 3D printing process midstream, we were able to make that happen for them.
  • Increasing pullout strength. If a 3D printed part isn’t strong enough to hold a heat set insert, we can insert a metal structure directly into the part for better pullout strength.

Hybrid Manufacturing with Polyhistor

If you’re unsure about whether or not your design allows for a hybrid approach, don’t hesitate to give us a call. As a product development and engineering design firm, we can help you design with this capability in mind.  

Many 3D printing service bureaus don’t have machining capabilities, and they aren’t willing to interrupt their 3D printing process to add machined and/or off the shelf hardware—but Polyhistor does and is! So contact us today.

4 Simple Design Tips to Reduce the Cost of Your Part

You’ll save time and money if you begin with the end in mind.

The core principle of machining is to remove everything that doesn’t look like the blueprint to get to the part. But the more material you have to remove, the more expensive the part gets—you’re not just wasting material, you’re also racking up cost in quoting time, programming, setup, and machine time.

When it comes to overall production cost, machine time affects the bottom line more than material cost. Whether you’re machining aluminum, stainless steel, or brass, a few simple tweaks can bring down the price of your part and improve turnaround time. 

Those tweaks begin with a design that’s streamlined for manufacturing (DFM). 

So if you’re looking to decrease cost for your machined parts, try decreasing machine time by considering the following:

  1. Remove as little material as possible. All the CNC machine shops in Jacksonville, Florida, will tell you that the #1 core machining principle is to remove as little as you can. There are two ways to approach removing less material. The first is to think about how to break complex parts into simpler, separate parts. The second (if quantities support it) is much more practical: create a near net shape extrusion to minimize the amount of machining necessary. 

    Think of it this way: if you were creating a square pipe, you could get a square piece of material, mill and remove all the materials, and end up with a square tube. OR you could have that shape extruded and do the finish milling inside and outside for 1/10 the amount of machining! You’ll save not only on machining time, but also on scrap.
  1. Reduce the number of setups. Maybe a part only needs to be machined from 2 sides instead of 4. Maybe all the part features can be done from the same side instead of opposite ones. If your design is laid out to minimize the number of machine setups required, you can cut down hours of time on layout and configuration, which can lower your quote.
  1. Consider material selection carefully. When there’s flexibility in material choice, think about what’s optimal for the production environment as well as the end purpose of the part. Softer materials can warp more easily and may require more careful machining strategies that add machine time. If your part won’t be visible, there’s no need to design in expensive bronze when brass would do just as well! And remember that a prototype doesn’t necessarily need to be made out of your end material, either. 

    We can always help make recommendations about the machinability of a particular material (hint: aluminum is one of the easiest materials to machine!)
  1. Understand basic machining abilities. You don’t need to be an expert in machining—that’s why you’ve got the team at our machine shop in Jacksonville! But if you have some knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of common machines, you can design to increase speed and reduce machine time (and cost). 

    For example, a CNC mill or lathe’s tooling may become unstable if the part needing to be drilled is too slender. Our engineers can recommend simple design adjustments to optimize your part for manufacturing, including reducing the number of tools required to complete the job. 

When you start the design process with manufacturing in mind, you can often lower your turnaround time and reduce your costs. One final piece of advice: get your manufacturer (Polyhistor) involved in the process early!

Polyhistor International is an engineering-based manufacturing company—we can see production from both the engineering and the manufacturing side. We are experts when it comes to making design recommendations for your project, so request a quote from us today!

How 2D Drawings Help Manufacture Better Parts

Fact: 3D CAD technology makes the product design process up to 50% faster than using 2D drawings alone. But does that mean 2D CAD drawings are obsolete?

It may surprise you to learn that while 3D CAD models have revolutionized product design, 2D designs still play a very important role in the manufacturing process. Engineers who solely depend on 3D models may be overlooking critical information that can affect the manufacturing process. In some cases, not having 2D drawings can cause significant production delays. 

Here’s why 2D drawings are still valuable in the manufacturing process.

  • Manufacturers appreciate clear design instructions from a manufacturing perspective. We’ve worked with many engineering companies in Florida and across the country, and there can be a disconnect between the nominal dimensions provided in 3D models and the way that parts fit together once they’ve been produced. 2D drawings which supply specific information on part design for machining intent are incredibly helpful to manufacturers. 
  • Fit and functionality. Dimensional specs ensure that your parts fit and function well. If we have to generate our own set of measurements from a 3D model, it takes up valuable time and can increase turnaround. On the other hand, a good 2D drawing with accurate and complete dimensional specs allows our team to quickly bring your project to completion.
  • Tolerances. We also recommend 2D drawings to to help us understand critical part characteristics like tolerances, which 3D CAD models don’t provide. Keep in mind, however, that very tight tolerances may be more difficult to produce and can increase the price of your part. So make sure you assess whether or not the part can be made successfully with the tolerances opened up. If you have a little wiggle room, use it!
  • Pricing. 3D files (Solidworks, STEP, IGES) are incredibly useful in generating quotes quickly, but there are other factors that may affect the final price of your part. 2D drawings help identify critical dimensions or potential issues that might affect cost.

Having well-rendered, complete, and accurate 2D drawings will ultimately help us create better parts that are produced faster, with fewer mistakes, less back and forth, and minimal hassle. 

Of course, if you want to take advantage of our product development services, the Polyhistor team is able to create both 3D models and 2D drawings for you. But if you’re starting with your own designs, including 2D drawings will help you have a more seamless manufacturing process from beginning to end.

On the lookout for a manufacturing partner? You’re in the right place. Whether you need CNC machining, injection molding, sheet metal fabrication, or a 3D print house in Jacksonville, FL, we’re here to help.

Submit your request for quote from Polyhistor today (2D drawings are always a plus!)

P.S. If there are specific manufacturing  topics you’d like us to cover, please let us know!

Leverage of a Fancy Nature

I’d be the fist one to admit, a hose nozzle lever is not an earth shattering 3D Printing application, but a sturdier handle was sure needed. Oh, sure you could have dropped everything and gone to Lowe’s or Home Depot and just purchased a new one, but if you are in a time crunch with a project why not use your own materials? It always comes with a satisfying feeling when you have the tools and skills to pull off a task of in a few hours for something that is actually needed in the shop. This is usually reserved for our customers, but this time we needed a little help for ourselves. When the handle to our nozzle broke we needed to replace it quickly. The picture below shows the outcome. Here we used a standard black Stratasys ABS-M30 material, build in 0.25 mm layer thickness.

3D Printed Handle

If you have any questions, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666

Bon Appetit – 3D Printed Life Improvement!

Today we are helping a loved one diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). ALS is a neurodegenerative  disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. I am sure that you remember the Ice Bucket challenge (www.alsa.org) to raise awareness, but you realized soon enough that the fight goes beyond ice buckets and frigid water. It really hits home when a family member has been diagnosed. To assist in his daily living we found this product on myminifactory.com designed by Luca Parmegiani (Thank You!).

2016-04-07 11.48.38

This spoon and fork holder will be a great life improvement. The design can be downloaded here if you like to 3D print one yourself: https://www.myminifactory.com/object/fork-and-spoon-support-for-person-with-disabilities-5480

We 3D printed this design on our Stratasys Fortus 400mc Production System using a black ABS-M30 material. This resin is very durable and have great impact resistance, so it will handle regular daily wear.  Products that make life improvements are products that we love to print!

Fortus 400mc 3D PrinterPolyhistor’s Fortus 400mc 3D Printer, 16″x14″x16″ build envelope

If you have any questions, please contact at us and we would be happy to assist you.

Contact us to learn more: www.phi2.com or +1.904.646.5666

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