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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!

Rapid tooling, rubber grommet

“Yes, but I need parts NOW!!!”

A last-minute cable design change required a different grommet to protect a cable as it passed out of an enclosure.  Nothing was available off-the-shelf that had the shape characteristics we needed.  In this case, we needed the durability, heat resistance, and strength and there were no rapid prototyped material available on the market with matching characteristics. We had to come up with a different solution, and we only had a few days to figure it out.

Traditionally, it was necessary to cut expensive injection molding tooling which  takes a few weeks. With small production runs, this approach does not make economic sense for a few parts only worth a couple of dollars. Traditional solutions were not good options.

We solved the problem using rapid prototyping but not in the way most folks would expect.

With a few hours to design and print, we made several sets of tools in the Objet 3D printer.  We then molded the parts we needed using a polyurethane resin.  Polyurethane resins come in different hardness values, physical properties,  and can be color pigmented to match almost any color.

Our mold design uses four interlocking parts.  The unique design allowed the grommet to be molded without any visible mold flash lines on the cosmetic surfaces.  One feature of the Objet 3D printer is that it has the ability to print parts with glossy surfaces, so our molded part would also have glossy surfaces.  The rapid prototyped mold we created required no post-processing as it was ready for use as soon as it came out of the printer.  We put it to use that day.

This same technique can be used to generate other molds for other applications.  Let us put this technology to work for you.

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

Rapid Prototyped tools for Contract Manufacuting

Our rapid prototyping capability helps us make tools quickly for our contract manufacturing needs.

Have you ever been tinkering around and wondered to yourself, “If only I had a tool that could do…”   All of the mechanical engineers I know have extensive tool boxes. While it is great to have every driver, wrench and helpful thingy known to man at the tip of your fingers, it is not always a tool that is off-the-shelf that will do the job.

One of the services we provide is the manufacturing of wire harnesses.  In one case it was necessary to twist wires together and the client needed parts fast.  Sounds easy, right?  Try buying a reasonably priced tool that can do that, especially when you have crimped ends that most folks don’t use. The lead time to actually get the twister delivered would directly have put us out of the picture.

Since our strength is custom work in relatively small runs of maybe a few thousand pieces, we make our own tools using rapid prototyping.  One of our favorite tools is a handy little device that we use for wire twisting.  Using a small motor, a foot switch, and our special rig, it works consistently and efficiently.  When you need to twist wires for 500 harnesses, the little rig can save hours of work.  With our rapid prototype capabilities, we can easily make new fixtures to accommodate different crimped ends.  Within 24 hours we had conceptualized, designed, and 3D printed the wire twister which is seen in action in the video we made.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POIkmJN0UzE]

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

So what do I need to do to have it made?

Key chain example

This part is a sample piece that can only be produced using rapid prototyping techniques.

Rapid prototypes require a 3D CAD file in STL format.  If you have one, you can upload the file here.  We will send you a quote by e-mail shortly.  The rapid prototype can be produced and delivered to you within a few days.

But what if my design is not completed?  That is where our engineers come in.  We are experienced product development engineers that can complete the design for you.  We can work from as little as paper napkin sketches.  Sometimes our clients bring us mock-up models taped together using foam core, off-the-shelf parts, and cardboard.     As long as what you have conveys the concept, we can make it happen.

Some people have experience with design, and prefer to do it themselves, but do not have the software resources that design engineers use.  If you want to design the product yourself there are some free or low-cost alternatives available.    Our favorite review site Top Ten Reviews has reviewed low-cost CAD software.  There are also open source CAD programs that are free.  If your intention is rapid prototyping, you need to make sure that the software can export STL files.  If you plan to send your design out for production at a later stage, many mold makers prefer to work with STEP or IGES formats.

Caution:  We have not tried these low-cost or free programs so we cannot say anything about how they perform.  Another caution is that a design is typically not better than the designer.  I am in the possession of a word processor but it does not make my writing skills better 🙂  Remember that almost any part can be rapid prototyped.  When the part goes into production there are limitations to consider that are not readily apparent if you do not have experience with the production equipment.

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

Going Clear

Lenses and integrated optical housings have traditionally been out of reach of the rapid prototype manufacturing process. In September 2011, Objet released the VeroClear material.  We quickly put this innovative new material to work.   This was the material we had been looking for to quickly make clear prototypes. We have used this plastic for many projects since then. We can now make frosted and clear optical objects.  We have also dyed the plastic to different translucent colors – we like VeroClear… We have used it for both pools and spa markets as well as lighting for the entertainment industry.

Of particular interest to us has been in the LED lighting industry.  With new and innovative lighting products coming on the market, we often find ourselves developing new products for this industry.

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

The Polyhistor Blog

And now for something completely different… 🙂

Our blog posts will focus on rapid prototyping, mechanical engineering, and product development.  The rapid prototyping field is changing every day.  It changes the way products are designed, tested, and eventually produced.  In time, this technology is poised to change the face of manufacturing as this process gets faster and the products are made of better materials.